Landing Coverage

    NASA's Landing Blog was activated: June 22, 2007 at 12 p.m. EDT
    NASA's Landing Blog was deactivated: June 22, 2007 at 5:10 p.m. EDT
    Landing coverage Landing Day Videos
    Video highlights from today's countdown are selected from televised coverage provided by NASA TV.
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    Thank you for joining us for the exciting coverage of the landing of Atlantis completing mission STS-117 to prepare the International Space Station for expansion. For the latest updates on this and future missions, visit NASA's Space Shuttle Web site. + Space Shuttle site

    5:10 p.m. - Some of the crewmembers will take their typical walk around the orbiter for one last look at the ship.

    The astronauts and their families will be flown to Houston, Texas, for their well-deserved reunion after a very successful mission.

    4:56 p.m. - The crew has entered the crew transport vehicle and are undergoing their medical checkups.

    4:43 p.m. - Once Atlantis is determined "safed," all crew members will exit the orbiter and enter the crew transport vehicle, a modified "people mover." There will be a physician on board to facilitate the brief medical exams.

    Now that Atlantis has landed, it will have about six months to be readied for its next flight: STS-122. It will again fly a new segment to the International Space Station.

    4:22 p.m. - The main gear (rear wheels) touchdown was at 3:49:38 p.m., nose gear was at 3:49:49 p.m., wheels stop was at 3:50:48 p.m. for a total mission time of 13 days, 20 hours, 12 minutes and 44 seconds.

    4:16 p.m. - The crew transport vehicle has pulled up to the orbiter. There are beds and comfortable seats inside so the astronauts can receive medical checks immediately after returning to Earth.

    4:11 p.m. - The recovery operations convoy has arrived. When the vehicle is considered safe from all potential hazards and free of toxic gases, the purge and coolant umbilical access vehicle moves into position at the rear of the orbiter.

    4:08 p.m. - The astronauts have been cleared to remove their orange flight–and-entry suits. Work to safely shut down Atlantis' systems is continuing.

    4:06 p.m. - The orbiter's three APUs have been shut down.

    4:02 p.m. - The crew has been given the okay to begin powering down the onboard computers and will be able to depart the orbiter in about 45 minutes.

    3:58 p.m. - The external tank umbilical doors have been opened.

    3:43 p.m. - The crew will now work through a checklist for shutting down the orbiter and "safing" the vehicle.

    3:50 p.m. - Atlantis' wheels have come to a stop. Welcome home, Atlantis, after completing a journey of more than five million miles.

    3:49 p.m. - Touchdown! Atlantis has safely landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

    3:43 p.m. - Commander Rick Sturckow is now controlling Atlantis and he has Runway 22 in sight.

    3:38 p.m. - Atlantis is at 165,000 feet and traveling at 10,000 feet per second.

    3:35 p.m. - Atlantis is traveling at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour.

    3:29 p.m. - During reentry and landing, the orbiter is not powered by engines and flies like a high-tech glider, relying first on its steering jets and then its aerosurfaces to control the airflow around it.

    3:25 p.m. - Atlantis is traveling at 16,500 miles per hour and will perform a series of roll maneuvers, banking first to the right and then to the left to help slow its speed as it descends toward landing. Early in this segment of reentry, the orbiter's orientation is controlled by the aft steering jets.

    3:23 p.m. - Atlantis is traveling 25 times the speed of sound.

    3:18 p.m. - Atlantis is approaching entry interface, which usually takes place at an altitude of about 80 miles and more than 5,000 statute miles from the landing site. At this point in the landing phase, the orbiter begins to feel the first effects of the Earth's atmosphere.

    Sunita Williams is riding back to Earth lying on her back. She has lived in the weightless conditions aboard the International Space Station since December. It is common for astronauts returning from long-duration missions to recline during the return to Earth to ease the transition back to gravity.

    3:10 p.m. - All APUs, or auxiliary power units are working normally. These units power pumps used to power Atlantis' hydraulic systems.

    3:05 p.m. - After nearly two weeks in space, Atlantis and the crew are headed home.

    There are six main events in the landing sequence: deorbit burn, entry interface, maximum heating, exit blackout, terminal area and approach and landing.

    2:56 p.m. - The crew of STS-117 will be dumping excess fuel overboard.

    2:53 p.m. - The Atlantis crew is now maneuvering the shuttle to the best position for landing on Runway 22 at Edwards. The orbiter is less than an hour from touchdown.

    2:48 p.m. - The convoy of landing support vehicles is moving to the staging point on the runway at Edwards.

    2:46 p.m. - The orbiter will perform a series of roll maneuvers, banking first to the right and then to the left to help slow down its speed as it descends for a landing.

    2:43 p.m. - DEORBIT BURN! Flight control confirms Atlantis' two engines are burning normally as the vehicle begins its descent toward Earth. During the burn, Atlantis flies upside down and backwards to decrease its speed.

    2:30 p.m. - With less than 15 minutes left to go before the deorbit burn, Mission Control is in constant communication with astronaut Scott Altman, who is flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft, regarding the weather at Edwards.

    2:23 p.m. - There are less than 20 minutes until the deorbit burn for Atlantis. The orbiter is being reoriented so its tail is in the direction of travel.

    2:19 p.m. - Mission Control has given Atlantis the go for deorbit burn!

    2:16 p.m. - Atlantis will shortly be given the command for deorbit burn scheduled for 2:43 p.m. EDT. The deorbit burn will slow Atlantis by 200 mph, causing it to fall out of orbit and begin the descent for landing.

    2:12 p.m. - Fifty space shuttle missions have landed at Edwards Air Force Base. The most recent was STS-114, when Discovery landed at the California base in 2005.

    The orbital maneuvering system engines are crucial for entry. The two engines housed in the pods at the end of the orbiter, act as a brake in space that allows the orbiter to fall into the atmosphere back to Earth.

    1:57 p.m. - The landing time for Edwards would occur at 3:49 EDT, 12:49 PDT with deorbit burn a little less than an hour prior.

    1:55 p.m. With NASA planning to land Atlantis at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the orbiter would fire its Orbital Maneuvering System engines at 2:43 p.m. EDT, 11:43 a.m. PDT.

    1:50 p.m. - After assessing the weather data flight controllers had to wave off the second landing opportunity for Kennedy. The forecast for Edwards appears to be clear.

    1:35 p.m. - Mission Control has given the crew the go ahead for fluid loading.

    1:25 p.m. - If landing is scheduled for Edwards Air Force Base, a ferry flight to bring the orbiter back to Kennedy for processing could take place after about 7 days.

    1:11 p.m. - Altman is flying a Shuttle Training Aircraft, a modified Gulfstream business jet. The aircraft is built to mimic the orbiter's glide to Earth. He can then relay to Atlantis what to expect if the orbiter should land at Edwards today.

    12:53 p.m. - Astronauts Steve Lindsey and Scott Altman have taken to the skies on the east and west coast to monitor weather conditions for both Kennedy and Edwards landing opportunities.

    Atlantis has two different runway options when landing at Kennedy: Runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility is used when the orbiter comes in from the southeast and Runway 15 is used when it comes in from the northwest. The runway determination is largely based on wind direction and speed.

    12:20 p.m. - Space Shuttle Atlantis is 213 statute miles above the Pacific Ocean in orbit around the Earth.

    12:10 p.m. - The second landing opportunity at Kennedy would be at 3:55 p.m. and 3:49 p.m. EDT at Edwards. The flight controllers are weighing both options with Kennedy being the preferred landing site.

    12:07 p.m. - Mission Control has waved off the first landing attempt at Kennedy. There are potential showers in the area of the landing facility violating weather constraints.

    12 p.m. - Welcome to the coverage of the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis, coming to you from the NASA News Center at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The orbiter is set to land today after a challenging but successful mission to the International Space Station.

    Both landing opportunities were waved off yesterday due to possible thunderstorm activity over the Florida landing site. There are five landing opportunities today; two at Kennedy and three at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

    The following events took place prior to the start of today's landing coverage:
    At 10:25 a.m. EDT, Atlantis was given the go-ahead from Mission Control to close the 60-foot-long payload bay doors in preparation for landing.

    Astronaut Steve Lindsey is in the air to provide weather reconnaissance at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy, relaying weather information to Mission Control in Houston. Astronaut Scott Altman is ready to take off in a T-38 jet aircraft at Edwards to monitor the weather conditions for the secondary landing site.

    Atlantis commander Rick Sturckow was instructed to go for "Ops 3" at 10:42 a.m. This action transitions the software to the onboard computers that is used for entry and landing.

    The Atlantis crew members donned their orange launch-and-entry suits and after suiting up, will take their assigned seats for reentry. Commander Sturckow and Pilot Lee Archambault have been seated and are going through their checklists.

    Mission Control is discussing the "go/no go" for fluid loading. This means the astronauts will drink large amounts of fluids to aid them in their re-acclimation into Earth's gravity. Each crewmember will drink approximately 40 ounces of water -- about eight ounces every fifteen minutes -- and take salt pills to help them increase their fluid volume. Crewmembers will drink chicken consume, orange-aid or water.

    First Landing Attempt - June 21, 2007
    1:35 p.m. - Flight controllers have waved off landing Space Shuttle Atlantis for a second time today. Poor weather over Kennedy Space Center has delayed landing the orbiter until Friday afternoon. Edwards Air Force Base in California is the secondary landing site if weather in the vicinity of the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy is still not within constraints.

    1:21 p.m. - We're standing by for Mission Control to give the astronauts a go/no go for fluid loading. The next landing attempt is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EDT.

    11:35 a.m. - At this time, Mission Control has given a "no go" for weather for the first landing opportunity. Please check back later for an update on the next landing opportunity at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility.

    The following events took place prior to the start of today's landing coverage:
    This morning at about 10:30 a.m. EDT, Atlantis was given the go-ahead to close the payload bay doors in preparation for landing.

    Mission Control then gave the crew a "go" to transition to the onboard computers, known as "Ops 3," an orbital software package that is used for entry and landing.

    Earlier this morning astronaut Steve Lindsey flew a T-38 jet aircraft to provide weather reconnaissance in and around the Shuttle Landing Facility, relaying weather information to Mission Control in Houston.

    At this time the forecast for Kennedy is a "no go" for showers within 30 miles with a low cloud ceiling probable for the first landing opportunity at 1:55 p.m. The weather will continue to be monitored as Mission Control gets closer to making the "go/no go" deorbit burn call, which is scheduled for about 12:30 p.m.

    The crew was given the "go" for the first auxiliary power unit prestart. These units, also known as APUs, propel pumps used to power Atlantis' hydraulic systems.

    Lindsey has taken the Shuttle Training Aircraft to the skies to check on the weather and practice landing the jet that simulates landing the space shuttle.

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