STS-122: Atlantis Helps Columbus Set Sail

    Orbiter: Atlantis
    Primary Payload: Columbus
    Launch Date: Feb. 7, 2008
    Launch Time: 2:45 p.m. EST
    Launch Pad: 39A
    Landing Date: Feb. 20
    Landing Time: 9:07 a.m. EST
    Landing Site: Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center
    Inclination/Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

    Space shuttle Atlantis launches Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off its launch pad to start the STS-122 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

    Space shuttle Atlantis lands. Atlantis landed perfectly at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to end the STS-122 mission. Photo courtesy of Chuck Luzier

    Space shuttle Atlantis punctuated a beautiful afternoon at NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a brilliant liftoff on Feb. 7, 2008, to begin the voyage of Columbus on seas of space science.

    With Commander Steve Frick and Pilot Alan Poindexter at the controls, Atlantis shot into space on a precise course to catch up with the International Space Station and deliver its European-built cargo — a science laboratory called Columbus. Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Rex Walheim acted as flight engineers for the launch and landing phases. Mission Specialists Stanley Love and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel flew up on the lower level of the crew compartment.

    It took three spacewalks and careful coordination of the space station and space shuttle robot arms to attach Columbus to the Harmony connecting node. It became the second station segment dedicated to cutting-edge research more than 200 miles above the Earth.

    Columbus joined Destiny at the station. Destiny is NASA's laboratory in space. Both labs will soon be joined by a third nation's research contribution - the Japanese-built Kibo lab complex.

    Atlantis also swapped crew members on the station, carrying European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts to the facility and bringing NASA astronaut Dan Tani back to Earth.

    The flawless mission ended 13 days later on Feb. 20 with Atlantis again soaring through the skies of Florida. The shuttle and its international crew of seven astronauts returned to the spaceport having accomplished all the missions given them for the STS-122 mission.

    Atlantis covered some 5.3 million miles during the STS-122 mission. The flight lasted 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 50 seconds.

Space Shuttle Features

Columbus Poised for Research Breakthroughs

Columbus module

The Columbus laboratory gives European researchers a foothold in orbit.

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Atlantis to Help Mark NASCAR Milestone

Space shuttle Atlantis is carrying a set of starter's flags for the Daytona 500 to help mark the race's 50th anniversary.

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Connector Repairs Stretch Boundaries

Two technicians study the soldering effort to repair an electrical connector.

Specialists applied a delicate touch and refined ingenuity to design and repair an electrical connector to be used by space shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-122.

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STS-122 Mission Stats

     Mission Elapsed Time:
     12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes, 50 secs

     Official Landing Times
     Main gear touchdown: 9:07:10 a.m. EST
     Nose gear touchdown: 9:07:20 a.m. EST
     Wheels stop: 9:08:08 a.m. EST
     Total miles: 5.3 million

Launch and Landing Coverage

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