BY JUSTIN RAY
Complete coverage of the space shuttle Atlantis' mission to the International Space Station to deliver new solar arrays. Reload for the latest updates.
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ATLANTIS LANDS AT EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE PLAY
LANDING REPLAY: SHUTTLE ONBOARD CAMERA PLAY
LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 1 PLAY
LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 2 PLAY
LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 3 PLAY
LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 4 PLAY
INSIDE MISSION CONTROL WITH ENTRY TEAM PLAY
NEWS CONFERENCE AFTER LANDING PLAY
POST-LANDING COMMENTS FROM THE CREW PLAY
WAVEOFF FOR FRIDAY'S FIRST LANDING CHANCE PLAY
BAD WEATHER SCRUBS THURSDAY'S LANDING PLAY
FIRST LANDING OPPORTUNITY WAVED OFF PLAY
PRE-LANDING MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
CREW INTERVIEWS WITH NBC, ABC AND CNN PLAY
FLIGHT DAY 12 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
UNIQUE VIEW OF STATION OVER TAIL OF ATLANTIS PLAY
ATLANTIS AS SEEN FROM STATION DURING FLYAROUND PLAY
FOOTAGE OF THE STATION DURING SHUTTLE FLYAROUND PLAY
SPACECRAFT FLY INTO SUNRISE DURING SEPARATION PLAY
STATION'S VIEW OF SHUTTLE ATLANTIS UNDOCKING PLAY
HATCHES CLOSED BETWEEN SHUTTLE AND STATION PLAY
SUNI WILLIAMS' TEARFUL GOODBYE MESSAGE PLAY
SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER ONBOARD LAUNCH CAMERAS PLAY
STS-117 VIDEO COVERAGE
2225 GMT (6:25 p.m. EDT)
A gallery of pictures from the landing is available story.
2150 GMT (5:50 p.m. EDT)
The crew will be spending the night in California. All seven astronauts, including Suni Williams, who is back on Earth after 194 days, 18 hours, 58 minutes in space, will return to Houston on Saturday. A welcoming ceremony for the crew is planned for Saturday afternooon at NASA Hangar 276 at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center.
2123 GMT (5:23 p.m. EDT)
The six shuttle astronauts, minus returning space station resident Suni Williams, have exited the Crew Transport Vehicle on the runway to take a look at their spacecraft.
2117 GMT (5:17 p.m. EDT)
The Crew Transport Vehicle carrying the Atlantis astronauts is driving back from the shuttle. At least some of the crew is expected to take the traditional walkaround of Atlantis to inspect the ship on the runway.
2045 GMT (4:45 p.m. EDT)
Commander Rick Sturckow has given his thanks to the flight control team and signed off. He'll be climbing out of the ship momentarily.
2021 GMT (4:21 p.m. EDT)
Running a day late because of blustery Florida weather, the space shuttle Atlantis dropped out of a sunny Mojave Desert sky and swooped to a smooth touchdown on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to close out an action-packed space station assembly mission.
Read our landing story.
2020 GMT (4:20 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' crew hatch has been opened.
2018 GMT (4:18 p.m. EDT)
The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- has pulled up to the side hatch for the astronauts to enter. The CTV features beds and comfortable seats for the astronauts to receive medical checks after returning to Earth's gravity from the weightless environment of space.
2017 GMT (4:17 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' vent doors have been repositioned. And the crew is beginning to power down the onboard computers.
2007 GMT (4:07 p.m. EDT)
The crew has been given a "go" to climb out of their entry spacesuits.
2006 GMT (4:06 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' three Auxiliary Power Units are being shut down.
2003 GMT (4:03 p.m. EDT)
On the runway, technicians have arrived with instruments to "sniff" the shuttle's exterior to check for any hazardous vapors.
2002 GMT (4:02 p.m. EDT)
The main engine nozzles are being repositioned, or gimbaled, to the "rain drain" orientation.
1959 GMT (3:59 p.m. EDT)
The ship's flight computers are transitioning to the OPS-9 software package.
1958 GMT (3:58 p.m. EDT)
The external tank umbilical doors on the shuttle's belly have been opened. The side hatch, drag chute and landing gear pyrotechnics have been safed. And Atlantis' body flap is being set.
1957 GMT (3:57 p.m. EDT)
Here are the landing times in Eastern Daylight Time and Mission Elapsed Time:
Main Gear Touchdown
3:49:38 p.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 20 hours, 11 minutes, 34 seconds
Nose Gear Touchdown
3:49:49 p.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 20 hours, 11 minutes, 45 seconds
3:50:48 p.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 20 hours, 12 minutes, 44 seconds
The shuttle traveled 5.8 million miles.
1954 GMT (3:54 p.m. EDT)
The crew is beginning the post-landing procedures on Atlantis.
1950 GMT (3:50 p.m. EDT)
WHEELS STOP. The shuttle and crew are back safe and sound!
1950 GMT (3:50 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis has returned to Earth after 14 days in space, concluding a success mission that brought more power to the space station by delivering and activating the Starboard 3/Starboard 4 truss and unfurling its two giant solar wings. The crew also completed retraction of the Port 6 power truss arrays for that structure's relocation later this year as the station's expansion proceeds toward the arrival of European and Japanese science labs.
1949 GMT (3:49 p.m. EDT)
TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown.
1949 GMT (3:49 p.m. EDT)
Landing gear down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Runway 22.
1949 GMT (3:49 p.m. EDT)
Wings are level. Altitude 2,000 feet.
1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is on final approach. The shuttle descending at a rate seven times steeper than that of a commercial airliner.
1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT)
Field in sight. Commander Rick Sturckow can see the runway as he guides Atlantis to landing.
1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT)
Altitude 17,000 feet, traveling at 428 mph.
1947 GMT (3:47 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is on course at the 180-degree mark of the HAC.
1946 GMT (3:46 p.m. EDT)
The shuttle is in the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 22. The crew is piloting Atlantis through a 260-degree right-overhead turn.
1945 GMT (3:45 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is descending through 60,000 feet.
1943 GMT (3:43 p.m. EDT)
Six minutes to landing. Atlantis is flying over Southern California.
1942 GMT (3:42 p.m. EDT)
Tally ho on Atlantis. Powerful tracking cameras at the landing site have spotted the descending shuttle.
A reminder that maps show the track that Atlantis will follow to Edwards are posted here here.
1941 GMT (3:41 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is traveling at 3,000 mph, 115,000 feet in altitude, 151 miles from the runway.
1940 GMT (3:40 p.m. EDT)
Altitude is 135,000 feet, spped is 4,000 mph, 220 miles from the runway.
1940 GMT (3:40 p.m. EDT)
Global Positioning System data is being incorporated into the primary and backup flight computers.
1939 GMT (3:39 p.m. EDT)
The TACAN navigation units aboard Atlantis are now receiving data from beacons located at the landing site.
1939 GMT (3:39 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis remains on the proper track for landing in less than 11 minutes. Mission Control computes the shuttle will land 2,600 feet down the runway at 195 knots.
1938 GMT (3:38 p.m. EDT)
Tracking stations at the landing site have locked on to Atlantis.
1937 GMT (3:37 p.m. EDT)
The shuttle is 165,000 feet up, traveling at 10 feet per second.
1936 GMT (3:36 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis has passed the region of maximum heating.
1935 GMT (3:35 p.m. EDT)
Less than 15 minutes to touchdown. Atlantis is flying over the Pacific Ocean, west of the Baja Peninsula. Altitude is 183,000 feet, traveling at 9,000 mph.
1934 GMT (3:34 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' speed is now 11,000 mph and 38 miles in altitude.
1933 GMT (3:33 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is 215,000 feet up, traveling at 13,000 mph.
1932 GMT (3:32 p.m. EDT)
The shuttle's aerosurfaces are becoming active and the roll and pitch reaction control system thrusters are being deactivated.
1930 GMT (3:30 p.m. EDT)
The shuttle is experiencing maximum heating as it descends through an altitude of 227,000 feet at a speed of Mach 21.
1924 GMT (3:24 p.m. EDT)
Time to touchdown now 25 minutes. Altitude is 250,000 feet. Speed is 16,500 mph.
1923 GMT (3:23 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is beginning the first of four banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. These turns basically remove the energy Atlantis built up during launch. This first bank is to the left.
1918 GMT (3:18 p.m. EDT)
ENTRY INTERFACE. Atlantis' thermal protection system is feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere -- a period known as entry interface.
The shuttle is flying at Mach 25 with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet over the southern Pacific Ocean and descending at a rate of over 600 feet per second.
Touchdown is set for 3:49 p.m. EDT at Edwards Air Force Base.
1912 GMT (3:12 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis flew south of Australia. And now the shuttle is out over the Pacific on a northeasterly trajectory that will take the Atlantis into California for landing at 3:49 p.m. EDT.
1909 GMT (3:09 p.m. EDT)
Now 40 minutes to touchdown. All three Auxiliary Power Units are up and running.
1905 GMT (3:05 p.m. EDT)
Onboard guidance has maneuvered Atlantis from its heads-down, tail-forward position needed for the deorbit burn to the reentry configuration of heads-up and nose-forward. The nose will be pitched upward 40 degrees. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly and the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the wing leading edges and nose cap will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere with temperatures reaching well over 2,000 degrees F. Atlantis will begin interacting with the upper fringes of the atmosphere above the South Pacific at 3:18 p.m. EDT.
1859 GMT (2:59 p.m. EDT)
Touchdown is 50 minutes away. This will be the 51st space shuttle landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The most recent landing there was STS-114, the first post-Columbia mission, back in August 2005. The three subsequent missions last year landed at Kennedy Space Center.
1853 GMT (2:53 p.m. EDT)
Excess propellant reserves in the maneuvering thrusters on the shuttle's nose will be dumped overboard. The dump time will be 22 seconds.
1851 GMT (2:51 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is maneuvering to the nose-forward orientation for entry.
1846 GMT (2:46 p.m. EDT)
"Atlantis, Houston, good burn. No trim required," CAPCOM astronaut Tony Antonelli told Atlantis commander Rick Sturckow.
1846 GMT (2:46 p.m. EDT)
DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Atlantis has successfully completed the deorbit burn, committing the shuttle for its journey back to Earth. Landing is scheduled for 3:49 p.m. EDT in the high desert of California.
1844 GMT (2:44 p.m. EDT)
DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards 220 miles above the central Indian Ocean, Atlantis has begun the deorbit burn. The firing of the twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines on the tail of the shuttle, each providing about 6,000 pounds of thrust, will last two minutes and 33 seconds, slowing the craft by roughly 200 miles per hour to start the trek toward reentry. The retro-burn will send Atlantis to Edwards Air Force Base in California for a touchdown at 3:49 p.m. EDT.
1842 GMT (2:42 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is in a good configuration for the deorbit burn, Mission Control says. Standing by for ignition.
1839 GMT (2:39 p.m. EDT)
Pilot Lee Archambault is activating one of three Auxiliary Power Units in advance of the deorbit burn, now four minutes away. The other two APUs will be started later in the descent to provide pressure needed to power shuttle's hydraulic systems that move the wing flaps, rudder/speed brake, drop the landing gear and steer the nose wheel. NASA ensures that at least one APU is working before committing to the deorbit burn since the shuttle needs only a single unit to make a safe landing.
1835 GMT (2:35 p.m. EDT)
Maps show the track that Atlantis will follow to Edwards are posted here here.
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis has maneuvered to the proper orientation for the deorbit burn.
1819 GMT (2:19 p.m. EDT)
GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! Mission Control just gave the Atlantis crew the formal "go" to perform the deorbit burn starting at 2:43:47 p.m. EDT to commit the shuttle for the trip back to Earth.
The upcoming 2-minute, 33-second retrograde burn using the twin OMS engines will slow the shuttle's velocity by nearly 300 feet per second, just enough to slip the craft out of orbit and begin the plunge into the atmosphere.
Atlantis is headed toward a landing at 3:49 p.m. EDT on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base to close out the 13-day, 20-hour mission.
1810 GMT (2:10 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis just flew directly over the Kennedy Space Center to begin the final orbit of the mission. The crew got a good view of the weather and cloud cover that forced the Florida landing to be cancelled.
"We saw exactly what you described, Tony. Looks like a pretty good call for today," commander Rick Sturckow radioed Mission Control.
"Thanks, Norm appreciates hearing that," CAPCOM Tony Antonelli replied, referring to entry flight director Norm Knight.
Knight made the decision about 20 minutes ago to scrub the final Kennedy landing opportunity and instead send Atlantis to California where the weather is just fine.
1800 GMT (2:00 p.m. EDT)
The two Orbital Maneuvering System engines on Atlantis will be ignited at 2:43:47 p.m. EDT for the 2-minute, 33-second deorbit burn to slow the shuttle and begin the trek toward landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
"We couldn't quite get comfortable with KSC, but we are going to target Edwards," CAPCOM astronaut Tony Antonelli told Atlantis commander Rick Sturckow in announcing the switch in landing sites.
The current weather in California has beautiful blue skies, a few clouds up at 30,000 feet, visibility of 60 miles and southeasterly winds of 4 peaking to 6 knots.
"Scooter did dives into (Runway) 22 and he said the conditions are great there," Antonelli said, referring to Scott Altman, the astronaut flying weather reconnaissance at Edwards.
"That sounds great, and we know you worked really hard to get us into Florida today. We appreciate all the folks that made that effort," Sturckow replied.
The California touchdown time is 3:49 p.m. EDT (12:49 p.m. local; 1949 GMT).
1750 GMT (1:50 p.m. EDT)
CALIFORNIA BOUND. Uncooperative weather at the space shuttle homeport in Florida yesterday and again today has left entry flight director Norm Knight no choice but divert Atlantis' landing to the backup site at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where conditions are favorable for the craft's return to Earth this afternoon.
Touchdown on the concrete Runway 22 is expected at 3:49 p.m. EDT to conclude the two-week flight of STS-117.
1737 GMT (1:37 p.m. EDT)
CAPCOM astronaut Tony Antonelli just gave the Atlantis crew a "go" to start the "fluid loading" protocol. That involves drinking large amounts of liquids and salt tablets to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity.
But where Atlantis will land this afternoon has not been decided. Weather is fine in California but showers around the preferred site at Kennedy Space Center remain a problem.
"We are not ready to pull the trigger on which site yet," Antonelli said.
1710 GMT (1:10 p.m. EDT)
Astronaut Scott Altman, commander of next year's Hubble servicing mission, has taken to the skies over Edwards Air Force Base aboard a Shuttle Training Aircraft to fly weather reconnaissance. He will relay his observations on the winds and weather conditions to Mission Control. Skies are clear and winds remain within limits for a shuttle landing at the Mojave Desert right now.
Meanwhile, NASA continues to track the clouds and rain at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Showers are south of the landing strip and slowly drifting further away from the runway. However, the rain is still within the restricted 30 mile circle around the Shuttle Landing Facility. Chief astronaut Steve Lindsey is flying a similar Shuttle Training Aircraft around KSC for weather reporting to flight controllers.
The key times to keep in mind -- the deorbit burn to brake from space for a landing at Edwards would begin at 2:43 p.m. EDT. The Kennedy opportunity on the same orbit begins with a deorbit burn at 2:50 p.m.
This upcoming orbit is the first landing opportunity of the day for Edwards and the final one for Kennedy. A decision on which site NASA will use today is expected within the next hour or so.
1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)
Our brief story on this first waveoff is available here.
1604 GMT (12:04 p.m. EDT)
WAVEOFF. The first landing opportunity of the day for Kennedy Space Center has been scrubbed due to the rainshowers around the Cape. Atlantis will circle the globe one more time while Mission Control watches to see if the weather improves in Florida. If the situation remains "no go" at the shuttle homeport for a deorbit burn at 2:50 p.m. and landing at 3:55 p.m. EDT, then NASA will have the ability to scrap the Florida plans and instead go to Edwards on that same orbit.
The upcoming Edwards Air Force Base opportunity would begin with a deorbit burn at 2:43 p.m. and touchdown on Runway 22 at 3:49 p.m. EDT. Current weather at the California base is "go."
1555 GMT (11:55 a.m. EDT)
Mission Control just told the crew about the showers south of the runway. Chief NASA astronaut Steve Lindsey reports good conditions into the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility, but showers on the southern approach.
1523 GMT (11:23 a.m. EDT)
CAPCOM astronaut Tony Antonelli radioed Atlantis commander Rick Sturckow an update on the Kennedy Space Center weather situation
"We are watching KSC. We are still dealing with the same things -- rainshowers in the area and (a) cloud ceiling that's right on the edge between scattered and broken. We're working that and the showers. The seabreeze might be setting up, so that might push all of those to the west. We'll need a little more time to work that, of course," Antonelli said from Mission Control.
"That sounds great, Houston," Sturckow replied. "We're gonna suitup then."
1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)
The latest data from Mission Control says the deorbit burn ignition time will be 1:12:24 p.m. EDT. The two OMS engines on the tail of Atlantis will fire for two minutes and 32 seconds to drop the shuttle out of the orbit for the fiery glide through the atmosphere and landing on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15 at 2:18 p.m. EDT.
But getting the OK to do the deorbit burn depends entirely on the weather. There's showers and extensive cloud cover at the Cape today.
1436 GMT (10:36 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis' 60-foot-long payload bay doors have been closed and locked for today's descent into Earth's atmosphere and landing at Kennedy Space Center. The deorbit burn is scheduled for 1:12 p.m., with touchdown at 2:18 p.m. EDT.
Meanwhile, Mission Control has given the crew a "go" to transition the onboard computers from the OPS-2 software used during the shuttle's stay in space to OPS-3, which is the software package that governs entry and landing.
1427 GMT (10:27 a.m. EDT)
The "go" has been given to shut the payload bay doors for today's landing.
The crew has bypassed the shuttle's radiators and checked out of the ship's flash evaporator cooling system for entry.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
The Atlantis astronauts will begin their deorbit preparation timeline in about 45 minutes. NASA remains focused on bringing the shuttle to a landing at Kennedy Space Center around 2:18 p.m. EDT this afternoon, if the weather would cooperate.
The latest weather forecast for the first landing opportunity calls for scattered clouds at 3,000 and 8,000 feet, a broken deck at 25,000 feet, good visibility and northwesterly winds of 8 gusting to 13 knots. The concern is the chance for showers within the 30 mile circle around the runway.
If the weather is deemed "no go" for the day's first landing shot, Atlantis would remain in space for another orbit while flight controllers look for any improvements in Florida and discuss the option of diverting the landing to California.
The weather outlook for the second Kennedy opportunity -- touching down at 3:54 p.m. EDT -- predicts scattered clouds at 3,000 and 8,000 feet, a broken deck at 25,000 feet, good visibility and northerly winds of 9 gusting to 13 knots. The concern will be the chance of rain and storms within the 30 mile circle around the runway.
The backup landing site at California's Edwards Air Force Base looks great for the first of three landing opportunities today. Conditions at the 3:49 p.m. EDT touchdown time are expected to include just a few clouds at 25,000 feet, good visibility and southwesterly winds of 7 gusting to 11 knots.
The winds are forecast to increase as the day wears on and be out of the limits for Edwards' third and final landing opportunity later tonight.
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2007
2047 GMT (4:47 p.m. EDT)
Reaction control system jets on the aft-end of space shuttle Atlantis just fired for an orbit phasing burn to create an additional landing opportunity tomorrow at Edwards Air Force Base, California. This maneuver boosted the shuttle's speed by 10 miles per hour and increased the apogee, or high point, of the orbit, Mission Control said. The post-burn orbit is 222 by 206 miles.
The new landing option for Edwards is earlier in the day than two others available for Friday. With forecasters predicting strong winds as the day goes on, flight controllers want to have a shot to get Atlantis into Edwards before the winds get too high.
NASA still hopes to land the shuttle at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But the weather outlook is not optimistic, making it possible that Atlantis could be diverted to the California military base.
Friday's first three landing options begin with a Kennedy touchdown at 2:18 p.m. EDT, followed an orbit later by the new Edwards opportunity at 3:49 p.m. EDT and the day's final Kennedy possibility at 3:54 p.m. EDT.
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
Faced with low clouds, area thunderstorms and a pessimistic forecast at the Kennedy Space Center landing site today, Mission Control told the Atlantis astronauts to stay in space another 24 hours. NASA will bring the shuttle back to Earth on Friday, at either Kennedy or Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., if the weather permits.
Read our full story.
1819 GMT (2:19 p.m. EDT)
Here is an updated list of all available landing opportunities Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Kennedy (KSC), Edwards (EDW) and White Sands Space Harbor, N.M. (NOR). All times in EDT and subject to change:
Fri 01:16 PM...13...17...38...KSC: Deorbit on rev 218
Fri 02:18 PM...13...18...40...KSC: Landing
Fri 02:46 PM...13...19...08...EDW: Deorbit on rev 219
Fri 03:49 PM...13...20...11...EDW: Landing
Fri 02:52 PM...13...19...14...KSC: Deorbit on rev 219
Fri 03:54 PM...13...20...16...KSC: Landing
Fri 04:21 PM...13...20...43...EDW: Deorbit on rev 220
Fri 05:24 PM...13...21...46...EDW: Landing
Fri 05:58 PM...13...22...20...EDW: Deorbit on rev 221
Fri 06:59 PM...13...23...21...EDW: Landing
Sat 11:59 AM...14...16...21...KSC: Deorbit on rev 233
Sat 01:02 PM...14...17...24...KSC: Landing
Sat 01:31 PM...14...17...53...NOR: Deorbit on rev 234
Sat 02:33 PM...14...18...55...NOR: Landing
Sat 01:35 PM...14...17...57...KSC: Deorbit on rev 234
Sat 02:37 PM...14...18...59...KSC: Landing
Sat 03:05 PM...14...19...27...EDW: Deorbit on rev 235
Sat 04:07 PM...14...20...29...EDW: Landing
Sat 03:06 PM...14...19...28...NOR: Deorbit on rev 235
Sat 04:08 PM...14...20...30...NOR: Landing
Sat 04:40 PM...14...21...02...EDW: Deorbit on rev 236
Sat 05:42 PM...14...22...04...EDW: Landing
Sat 04:43 PM...14...21...05...NOR: Deorbit on rev 236
Sat 05:44 PM...14...22...06...NOR: Landing
Sun 12:20 PM...15...16...42...KSC: Deorbit on rev 249
Sun 01:22 PM...15...17...44...KSC: Landing
Sun 01:52 PM...15...18...14...NOR: Deorbit on rev 250
Sun 02:54 PM...15...19...16...NOR: Landing
Sun 01:56 PM...15...18...18...KSC: Deorbit on rev 250
Sun 02:58 PM...15...19...20...KSC: Landing
Sun 03:26 PM...15...19...48...EDW: Deorbit on rev 251
Sun 04:27 PM...15...20...49...EDW: Landing
Sun 03:28 PM...15...19...50...NOR: Deorbit on rev 251
Sun 04:27 PM...15...20...49...NOR: Landing
Sun 05:02 PM...15...21...24...EDW: Deorbit on rev 252
Sun 06:03 PM...15...22...25...EDW: Landing
1750 GMT (1:50 p.m. EDT)
Coming up later today, the shuttle crew will perform a minute-long, 11 foot-per-second engine firing to adjust the orbit and create an additional landing opportunity at Edwards Air Force Base on Friday.
Tomorrow still begins with a Kennedy Space Center opportunity, with touchdown at 2:14 p.m. EDT. But if weather remains bad in Florida, the next orbit would have that new Edwards landing option available to NASA, along with the second and final shot into Kennedy for the day.
We'll post all of the times for the various options shortly.
1733 GMT (1:33 p.m. EDT)
ANOTHER DAY IN SPACE. Ugly weather at the Kennedy Space Center has given the seven astronauts of space shuttle Atlantis a bonus day in orbit. Entry flight director Norm Knight in Mission Control just made the decision to wave off the second of the two landing opportunities to bring the shuttle back to the Florida spaceport today.
The crew of commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Lee Archambault, mission specialists Pat Forrester, Steve Swanson, Danny Olivas, Jim Reilly and Suni Williams will re-open the payload bay doors, climb out of their entry spacesuits, get something to eat and enjoy the view out the window for the rest of the day.
Friday's first landing option would see Atlantis touch down around 2:14 p.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center. But the weather is not expected to be much better. A detour to the backup landing site at California's Edwards Air Force Base is a possibility.
Atlantis has enough consumables to remain in space through Sunday, but NASA wants the shuttle safely on the ground by Saturday. A Kennedy Space Center homecoming is preferred since it puts Atlantis on the fast-track to be readied for its next mission in December, which will launch the European Columbus science laboratory module to the space station. A landing at Edwards would cost about $1 million and at least a week to ferry the shuttle back to Florida atop a modified 747 carrier jet.
1721 GMT (1:21 p.m. EDT)
Mission Control says a decision on whether the crew should begin its "fluid loading" protocol will be delayed by about 15 minutes while officials continue to evaluate the weather. The "fluid loading" involves drinking large amounts of liquids and salt tablets to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity. But NASA conveniently delays the start of drinking unless there is a realistic chance of the shuttle being cleared to land.
1712 GMT (1:12 p.m. EDT)
If the Florida weather gives NASA a miracle over the next hour, the deorbit burn by Atlantis' twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines to drop from orbit would begin at 2:25:06 p.m. EDT and will last two minutes and 37 seconds. Landing on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15 would follow at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
1655 GMT (12:55 p.m. EDT)
Weather conditions remain solidly "no go" at Kennedy Space Center.
1605 GMT (12:05 p.m. EDT)
As a rainshower sweeps west-to-east toward the Shuttle Landing Facility, Atlantis has crossed the equator to begin orbit 202. There is not much optimism that the Florida weather picture will improve for a 3:30 p.m. landing of the shuttle. But Mission Control will continue to watch the conditions to gauge any signs of hope before throwing in the towel for today.
1549 GMT (11:49 a.m. EDT)
WAVEOFF. Atlantis will remain in space for at least another orbit today. Rainshowers developing near the Kennedy Space Center landing strip and low cloud ceilings have forced entry flight director Norm Knight to scrub the first of the day's two landing opportunities.
If the weather situation improves, Atlantis could return to Earth later this afternoon, beginning with a deorbit burn at 2:25 p.m. and touchdown at 3:30 p.m. on Kennedy Space Center's three-mile-long runway.
Should the weather remain "no go" for backup landing opportunity, Atlantis would stay in orbit for an additional day. There are landing options available at KSC and the alternate site at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday.
1540 GMT (11:40 a.m. EDT)
After donning the bright orange launch and entry suits for their homecoming, the crew will follow with the "fluid loading" protocol of drinking large amounts of liquids and salt tablets to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity.
However, the start of that "fluid loading" occurs after Houston gives a "go" based on the weather and likelihood of Atlantis being cleared for the deorbit burn. If there is little hope of landing on the first opportunity today, the crew could be told to hold off the drinking.
1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT)
Now 90 minutes away from the scheduled firing of Atlantis' twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines to drop from orbit. The burn begins at 12:49:38 p.m. EDT and will last two minutes and 37 seconds. Landing is set for Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15 at 1:55 p.m. EDT.
But the weather outlook still calls for low clouds and rain around the runway that would violate the landing rules.
A final "go" or "no go" call from Mission Control whether to proceed with the deorbit burn is expected around 12:30 p.m. EDT.
1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle's main flight computers have completed the switch to the entry software package.
1439 GMT (10:39 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis' clam-shell-like payload bay doors have been closed and locked in preparation for today's fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere and landing at Kennedy Space Center. The deorbit burn is scheduled for 12:50 p.m., with touchdown at 1:55 p.m. EDT.
Meanwhile, Mission Control has given the crew a "go" to transition the onboard computers from the OPS-2 software used during the shuttle's stay in space to OPS-3, which is the software package that governs entry and landing. And Atlantis will soon maneuver to a new orientation in space to improve the communications link with NASA's orbiting data relay satellites.
1425 GMT (10:25 a.m. EDT)
The crew has completed the work to bypass the shuttle's radiators and checked out of the ship's flash evaporator cooling system for entry. The "go" has been given to shut the payload bay doors for today's planned landing, if the weather improves.
1400 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT)
The crew was told to hold off with the activities to prepare for payload bay door closing by about 20 minutes.
1330 GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT)
Closing of the payload bay doors for entry is scheduled to begin 40 minutes from now. Entry flight director Norm Knight and his team will be getting another weather update on the current and forecast conditions for Kennedy Space Center prior to giving the astronauts a "go" to close the doors.
The crew is proceeding through the deorbit preparation timeline. Early steps include verifying the correct positions of switches in the cockpit, re-installing the mission specialists' seats and checkout of the ship's flash evaporator cooling system.
1300 GMT (9:00 a.m. EDT)
It is a gray, overcast morning at Kennedy Space Center where NASA hopes to bring space shuttle Atlantis back to Earth later today. But weather forecasters are calling for low clouds and thunderstorms that would violate landing rules for both the 1:55 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. homecoming opportunities for the shuttle.
The weather will be watched throughout the day in the chance that conditions improve enough for the shuttle to brake from orbit and glide back to its homeport after nearly two weeks in space.
1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT)
Keeping tabs on threatening weather, the Atlantis astronauts were awakened today around 5:40 a.m. to begin preparations for re-entry and landing at the Kennedy Space Center. The crew has two opportunities to land in Florida today, at 1:55 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., but forecasters predict low clouds and afternoon thunderstorms in the area. If the weather prevents a return to Earth today, the astronauts will remain in orbit an additional day and try again on Friday.
Aboard the international space station, meanwhile, commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Oleg Kotov plan to carry out a test to help Russian engineers figure out what might have caused computer failures last week that crippled the lab complex.
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Read our earlier status center coverage.