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Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 1 a.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-122 MCC Status Report #26
HOUSTON – The seven astronauts on space shuttle Atlantis are only hours away from a landing in Florida that will conclude a successful 13-day mission that delivered the European Space Agency’s science laboratory Columbus to the International Space Station.

The wakeup song, “Hail to the Spirit of Liberty” by John Philip Sousa, was played at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday for Pilot Alan Poindexter.

Deorbit preparations begin at 3:05 a.m. Then the crew will ready their seats and should get the okay to close the payload bay doors at 4:19 a.m. If the near perfect weather continues, Commander Steve Frick will conduct the deorbit burn at 6:59 a.m. That will slow Atlantis enough to fall out of orbit to begin its descent toward a landing at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility at 8:07 a.m.

Atlantis has three additional opportunities to land today if needed. A second opportunity to land in Florida would begin with an engine firing at 8:35 a.m. leading to touchdown at 9:42 a.m.

Opportunities also are available to land at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The first opportunity to land at Edwards would begin with an engine firing at 10:05 a.m. leading to an 11:12 a.m. touchdown. A second opportunity to land in California would begin with an engine firing at 11:41 a.m. leading to a 12:47 p.m. touchdown.

Atlantis’ crew – Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stan Love, Hans Schlegel and Dan Tani – installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare the lab for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss and retrieved a failed control moment gyroscope for return to Earth.

The next STS-122 status report will be issued following landing.

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