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The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-117
Launch: June 8, 2007
Time: 7:38 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: June 22 @ 3:49 p.m. EDT
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California

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Complex 36 demolition

The two mobile service towers at Cape Canaveral's Complex 36 that had supported Atlas rockets for decades are toppled to the ground with 122 pounds of explosives.

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Atlas 5's NRO launch

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifts off June 15 from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 on the classified NROL-30 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

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Booster cameras

Hitch a ride up and down on the twin solid rocket boosters that launched shuttle Atlantis last week. Each booster was outfitted with three cameras to give NASA upclose footage of the vehicle's ascent.

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Atlantis launch coverage

Shuttle Atlantis blasted off June 8 on its mission to the space station.

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Atlantis departs the space station after successful visit
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: June 19, 2007

With pilot Lee Archambault at the controls, the shuttle Atlantis undocked from the international space station today at 10:42 a.m. as the two spacecraft sailed high above New Guinea.

"Houston and ISS, from Atlantis, physical separation," radioed commander Rick Sturckow as the shuttle pulled away at a sedate tenth of a mile per hour.

"Thank you very much," called station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, who followed naval tradition by ringing the ship's bell in the Destiny laboratory module. "Atlantis departure."

"Thank you ISS," Sturckow radioed. "Have a great remainder of your expedition 15. We'll see you back on planet Earth."

Spectacular video from the shuttle showed the space station, now sporting two huge solar wings on each end of its main solar power truss, sailing against the black of deep space and then the myriad hues of South America, the Atlantic Ocean and Europe as the shuttle looped over and around the lab complex.

Later, as Atlantis dropped behind the station and slowly pulled away, a dramatic shot from a camera looking back past the tail of the shuttle showed the space station small in the distance, its face-on solar arrays looking like the wings of a "Star Wars" TIE fighter.

Flight controllers were thrilled.

"Today was just another great day in the space business," said lead Flight Director Cathy Koerner. "I cannot be more pleased, again, with the flight control teams, all the ground teams and the crew, the performance today was outstanding. We had a picture-perfect undocking and fly-around.

"We did a complete fly-around of the international space station in its new configuration," Koerner said, narrating a short video. "Here you see the space station just there, trailing behind the shuttle well after undocking and the separation burns. We refer to this as our TIE Fighter video, for those of you who are 'Star Wars' fans. Upon seeing this video, one of the managers remarked that we'd rather have a TIE Fighter than an imperial cruiser back there."

Said Mike Suffredini, manager of the space station program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston: "As Cathy said, it was picture-perfect for departure and the space station finally looks symmetrical, it hasn't looked that way in a while. And we were happy to see that."

Earlier, a camera in the shuttle's cargo bay spotted numerous sparkling objects slowly drifting across the field of view - presumably harmless pieces of ice - along with one much larger, more distinct piece of debris of some sort. It was not immediately clear whether the object was from the space station or the shuttle.

It's not unusual to see small bits of ice or debris leaving the shuttle after jarring rocket firings and Suffredini said this one was probably more of the same. But image analysts were studying the video to make sure.

"During separation, you may have noticed what looked like a white object leaving the international space station, the orbiter was quite a bit away," Suffredini said. "We're off looking at that object to see if it was actually a station or a shuttle object. When we complete that review, we'll share that information with you."

Around 5:30 p.m., Sturckow reported yet another piece of debris leaving the area of the shuttle. It was not immediately clear whether any of the sightings were related.

"Hey Kevin, we just spotted an object floating up out of the payload bay," he told Kevin Ford in mission control. "And we've identified it. All over the payload bay there are little phenolic-looking, kind of tan-looking washers with four slots in them and then they've got some string that hold them on to tie down the MLI (multi-layer insulation) blankets. And one of them has come loose and departed the payload bay."

"OK, C.J., we copy that. Thanks for the words on that," Ford replied.

Joining Archambault and Sturckow aboard Atlantis were flight engineer Steve Swanson, Patrick Forrester, Danny Olivas, Jim Reilly and Sunita Williams, who is returning to Earth after a record six months in space, the longest single flight by a female astronaut.

She was replaced by Clay Anderson, who hitched a ride to the station aboard Atlantis to join Yurchikhin and flight engineer Oleg Kotov.

"Godspeed, C.J.," Anderson radioed Sturckow as Atlantis pulled away. "Thanks for everything."

Working from the aft flight deck, Archambault guided Atlantis straight away from the space station to a point directly in front of the lab complex before beginning a slow 360-degree fly-around to permit his crewmates to photograph the station and its new solar arrays.

"One of the big reasons we do this is so we can get good documentation, photo imagery of the space station as we leave it," Archambault said. "At a minimum, we'll be backing out to approximately 400 feet. ... We'll do a 360-(degree trip) round the space station to get good photo imagery from all angles."

After the fly-around was complete, the shuttle astronauts took a break for lunch and then used the ship's robot arm to pick up the orbiter boom sensor system, or OBSS, for a final set of nose cap and wing leading edge inspections.

"On flight day two, the scans are primarily looking for damage caused by the launch environment," Koerner said in a pre-flight briefing. "Here, what we're looking for are any micrometeoroid impacts that may have occurred while we were on orbit. And again, we're trying to ensure the integrity of the thermal protection system before entry day."

There were no immediate signs of any problems.

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: UNIQUE VIEW OF STATION OVER TAIL OF ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS AS SEEN FROM STATION DURING FLYAROUND PLAY
VIDEO: FOOTAGE OF THE STATION DURING SHUTTLE FLYAROUND PLAY
VIDEO: SPACECRAFT FLY INTO SUNRISE DURING SEPARATION PLAY
VIDEO: STATION'S VIEW OF SHUTTLE ATLANTIS UNDOCKING PLAY
VIDEO: HATCHES CLOSED BETWEEN SHUTTLE AND STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SUNI WILLIAMS' TEARFUL FAREWELL MESSAGE PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 11 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: TWO CREWS' FAREWELL CEREMONY PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 10 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: POST-SPACEWALK STATUS UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH LEAD EVA OFFICER PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 9 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: IN-FLIGHT CREW NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY NIGHT MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY MID-DAY COMPUTER UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER ONBOARD LAUNCH CAMERAS PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SOLAR WING FULLY DEPLOYED PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SOLAR WING DEPLOYED HALF-WAY PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST SOLAR WING FULLY DEPLOYED PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST SOLAR WING DEPLOYED HALF-WAY PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: POST-SPACEWALK STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: BRIEFING ON MISSION EXTENSION PLANS PLAY

VIDEO: SPACEWALK No. 1 BEGINS PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF THE SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS DOCKS WITH THE SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: WATCH THE RENDEZVOUS BACKFLIP MANUEVER PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VIEW FROM COMPLEX 41 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: THE VAB ROOF PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: THE PRESS SITE PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA AT THE BEACH PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH OF ATLANTIS! PLAY
VIDEO: FULL LENGTH MOVIE OF ASCENT TO ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK ONBOARD VIDEO CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR THE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: PAD'S ROTATING SERVICE STRUCTURE RETRACTED PLAY
VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS FROM ATLANTIS' LAUNCH CAMPAIGN PLAY
VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAYLOAD'S LAUNCH CAMPAIGN PLAY

MORE: STS-117 VIDEO COVERAGE
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