After traveling more than 4.5 million miles, delivering the second segment of the International Space Station’s main truss and three successful spacewalks to hook it up, Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center today.
Atlantis has two landing opportunities at KSC. The first begins with the firing of the shuttle’s braking rockets at 9:36 a.m. and a landing at 10:44 a.m. CDT. A second opportunity for a KSC landing would see the deorbit burn at 11:16 a.m. and a landing at 12:21 p.m. Forecasts call for favorable weather for landing, with scattered clouds, good visibility and 10-knot winds.
The backup-landing site at California’s Edwards Air Force Base will not be activated today. Atlantis has enough consumables to stay in orbit until Tuesday.
The crew, Commander Jeff Ashby, Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission Specialists Dave Wolf, Sandy Magnus, Piers Sellers and Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, was awakened at 2:25 a.m. by “Someday Soon,” performed by Suzy Bogguss. It was for Ashby, requested by his wife.
Deorbit preparations began about 5:40 a.m. The payload bay doors are to be closed at 6:56 a.m.
About 3,000 miles behind the shuttle, the ISS Expedition 5 crew, Commander Valery Korzun, NASA ISS Science Officer Peggy Whitson and Cosmonaut Sergei Treschev, is in its 135th day in space. Crewmembers are awaiting a taxi crew scheduled to arrive late this month with a replacement for the Soyuz now at the station. Expedition 5 is to return home on the STS-113 mission of Endeavour, scheduled for launch with their Expedition 6 replacements no earlier than Nov. 10.
During the week it was docked to the station, Atlantis did two reboosts of the orbiting laboratory, raising its altitude by about six miles. Another station reboost was performed about 3:25 a.m. today using the engines of the Progress unpiloted cargo carrier docked to the rear of the Zvezda Service Module. It was to raise the station’s altitude an additional 6.9 miles and adjust the orbit for the arrival of the new Soyuz. The station’s average altitude after the reboost was expected to be 249 miles.
If Atlantis lands on time, crewmembers are tentatively scheduled to return to the Johnson Space Center in Houston Saturday afternoon.
The next status report will be issued after landing, or as events warrant.
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