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The Space Shuttle Atlantis returns from its final flight……

Shuttle

What Can I say???

Space shuttle Atlantis returned from orbit on its last scheduled voyage Wednesday, closing out a 25-year flying career and safely bringing back six astronauts who boosted the International Space Station’s power and size.

The smooth landing was indicative of the entire 12-day mission — NASA’s third-to-last shuttle flight.

“That was pretty sweet,” Mission Control radioed after Atlantis glided through a clear morning sky and rolled down the runway. “That was a suiting end to an incredible mission.”

Commander Kenneth Ham said he was ready to turn the shuttle over to the ground teams and get Atlantis “back in the barn for a little bit.”

Mission Control had monitored storms throughout the early hours, but they dissipated by daybreak and remained at a safe distance. The cockpit erupted in cheers when Mission Control finally radioed the “go” to come home.

About 1,200 guests lined the Kennedy Space Center runway to welcome Atlantis and its crew home, the maximum allowable crowd. The lead flight directors for the space station construction mission came in from Houston for the event. Space center employees wore white ribbons with the name “Atlantis” and its picture embossed in gold.

“The legacy of Atlantis is now in the history books,” Mission Control’s commentator announced at touchdown.

This was Atlantis’ 32nd journey; the shuttle logged its 120-millionth mile shortly after midnight.

Only two shuttle missions remain, by NASA’s two other spaceships. NASA is pushing for one more flight for Atlantis, which would need White House approval.

The astronauts accomplished everything they set out to do after rocketing into orbit May 14, and did it with some humor. When Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert called to chat Tuesday, the one-liners zipped back and forth.

“We’ve got a new antenna on the space station, a new six-pack of batteries, a new module docked to the station, and generally have defeated the forces of evil, so we’re very happy about how things have gone,” said astronaut Garrett Reisman.

Ham and his crew turned serious, though, when reflecting on Atlantis’ quarter-century of service and the impending end of the space shuttle program…..

More……..

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Breaking News, Government, Media, Men, Military, Politics, Space, Travel, Updates, Women | , , | Leave a comment

The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off on it last voyage?…….

What a beautiful picture!

As the United States moves out of the manned space business…

Hopefully the private guys will work up their spacecraft……

The space shuttle Atlantis, carrying a crew of six, a Russian docking module and critical spare parts, vaulted into orbit Friday on a 12-day space station assembly mission, the orbiter’s 32nd and final planned flight after a quarter century of service.

With NASA bracing for the looming retirement of the shuttle fleet after a final three missions, Atlantis roared to life and rocketed away from its seaside pad at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time. The eight-and-a-half-minute ascent appeared normal as the spacecraft climbed through a partly cloudy sky, putting on a familiar, soon-to-be-missed show for area residents and tourists who turned out in droves to catch a glimpse of Atlantis’s final launching.

A camera mounted on the shuttle’s external tank provided dramatic views of the climb to space with no obvious signs of foam insulation or other debris that might have caused any damage.

Strapped in on Atlantis’s flight deck were Capt. Kenneth T. Ham of the Navy, the commander; Cmdr. Dominic A. Antonelli, also of the Navy, the pilot; the flight engineer, Michael T. Good, a retired Air Force colonel; and Garrett E. Reisman, veteran of a three-month stay aboard the space station in 2008.

Seated on the shuttle’s lower deck were Capt. Stephen G. Bowen of the Navy, a former submariner, and Piers J. Sellers, a British-born astronaut who arranged to carry a piece of bark from Isaac Newton’s apple tree into the weightlessness of space. All six astronauts are shuttle veterans.

If all goes well, Captain Ham will guide Atlantis to a docking with the forward port of the International Space Station early Sunday, kicking off a busy week of assembly work.

The day after docking, Captain Bowen and Mr. Reisman plan to stage a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to install a spare Ku-band dish antenna and to mount an equipment stowage platform on a Canadian robot arm extension. The next day, Mr. Reisman, operating the station arm from inside the station’s new multiwindow cupola, will attach the 17,760-pound Rassvetmodule to the Earth-facing port of the central Russian Zarya module.

The new compartment will serve as an extended docking compartment, providing needed clearance between the Russian segment’s forward port and an American storage module scheduled for installation on the next shuttle mission later this year. The new module was loaded with 1.5 tons of American supplies and equipment for launch aboard Atlantis.

The day after the Rassvet installation, Captain Bowen and Mr. Good will stage a spacewalk to begin replacing six 375-pound batteries in the station’s far left set of solar arrays. A final spacewalk with Mr. Reisman and Mr. Good is planned to finish up the work.

Atlantis is scheduled to undock from the space station May 23 and land back at the Kennedy Space Center around 8:44 a.m. on May 26.

More……..

Note……NASA is trying to possibly wring one more flight out of Atlantis as a last supply mission for the International Space Station sometime later this year…..

Here is a quick link to a final farewell…

http://www.space.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=SP_100514_AtlantisLegacy

Thanks BDog!

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Breaking News, Government, Media, Men, Space, Travel, Updates, Women | , | 4 Comments