Spaceflight Now

The Mission

Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-122
Payload: Columbus science laboratory
Launch: Feb. 7, 2008
Time: 2:45 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Feb. 20 @ 9:07 a.m. EST
Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC

Mission Status Center

STS-122 Quick-Look

Meet the Crew

Launch Windows

Countdown Timeline

Launch Timeline

Master Flight Plan

Key Mission Personnel

Shuttle Flight History

STS-122 Archive


Complete coverage of the space shuttle Atlantis' mission to deliver Europe's Columbus science laboratory module to the International Space Station. Reload for the latest updates.

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1455 GMT (9:55 a.m. EST)

About five hours after landing, technicians will begin towing space shuttle Atlantis from the runway to Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1 to begin post-flight deservicing. The ship's next mission -- the final trip to the Hubble Space Telescope -- is scheduled for launch at 9:38 p.m. EDT on August 28.

1450 GMT (9:50 a.m. EST)

All seven astronauts have egressed the orbiter.

The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- is 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.

1434 GMT (9:34 a.m. EST)

Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers can watch a video of Atlantis' landing here.

1423 GMT (9:23 a.m. EST)

The crew has been given a "go" to climb out of their entry spacesuits.

1422 GMT (9:22 a.m. EST)

Atlantis' three Auxiliary Power Units have been shut down.

1421 GMT (9:21 a.m. EST)

The main engine nozzles have been repositioned, or gimbaled, to the "rain drain" orientation.

1418 GMT (9:18 a.m. EST)

On the runway, technicians are using instruments to "sniff" the shuttle's exterior to check for any hazardous vapors.

1416 GMT (9:16 a.m. EST)

The drag chute, landing gear and side hatch pyrotechnics have been safed.

1414 GMT (9:14 a.m. EST)

Here are the landing times in Eastern Standard Time and Mission Elapsed Time, as provided by Mission Control:

Main Gear Touchdown
9:07:10 a.m. EST
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes, 40 seconds

Nose Gear Touchdown
9:07:20 a.m. EST
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes, 50 seconds

Wheels Stop
9:08:08 a.m. EST
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 22 minutes, 38 seconds

1412 GMT (9:12 a.m. EST)

The external tank umbilical doors on the shuttle's belly have been opened. And the drag chute and landing gear pyrotechnics are being safed.

1410 GMT (9:10 a.m. EST)

The crew is beginning the post-landing procedures on Atlantis.

1408 GMT (9:08 a.m. EST)

WHEEL STOP. Atlantis is back safe and sound after its 5.3-million-mile trip.

1407 GMT (9:07 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is rolling down Runway 15 having returned home to the Florida spaceport after its mission that delivered the Columbus science laboratory to the space station, the European Space Agency's centerpiece contribution to the international outpost.

1407 GMT (9:07 a.m. EST)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown.

1407 GMT (9:07 a.m. EST)

Landing gear down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Runway 15.

1406 GMT (9:06 a.m. EST)

Altitude 6,000 feet. The shuttle descending at a rate seven times steeper than that of a commercial airliner.

1406 GMT (9:06 a.m. EST)

Field in sight. Commander Steve Frick can see the runway as he guides Atlantis to landing.

1405 GMT (9:05 a.m. EST)

Atlantis has punched through the clouds at 12,000 feet.

1405 GMT (9:05 a.m. EST)

Descending through 15,000 feet.

1404 GMT (9:04 a.m. EST)

Altitude 25,000 feet as Atlantis makes the sweeping turn.

1404 GMT (9:04 a.m. EST)

The shuttle is in the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. Commander Steve Frick is piloting Atlantis through a 247-degree left-overhead turn to loop around for landing on the northwest-to-southeast runway.

1403 GMT (9:03 a.m. EST)

The twin sonic booms have crackled across the Space Coast, announcing Atlantis' arrival home.

1402 GMT (9:02 a.m. EST)

The crew has been given the "go" for normal deployment of the drag chute after main gear touchdown.

1401 GMT (9:01 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is 14 miles in altitude, some 70 miles from the runway.

1400 GMT (9:00 a.m. EST)

Seven minutes to touchdown. Air data probes are being deployed from the shuttle's nose to feed air speed, altitude and angle of attack information to the computers for navigation.

1359 GMT (8:59 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is 20 miles up and 127 miles from the runway.

1358 GMT (8:58 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is less than 200 miles from Kennedy Space Center.

1357 GMT (8:57 a.m. EST)

Mission Control computes Atlantis will land 2,500 feet down the runway at 195 knots. The vehicle remains on course and the MILA tracking station at the Cape has acquired Atlantis' signal.

1357 GMT (8:57 a.m. EST)

Ten minutes to go. The TACAN navigation units aboard Atlantis are now receiving data from beacons located at the landing site, along with GPS receivers on the ship.

1355 GMT (8:55 a.m. EST)

The spacecraft is crossing the Gulf of Mexico, about to arrive in Florida airspace over Fort Myers.

1354 GMT (8:54 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is 33 miles in altitude, traveling at Mach 12 as it passes just west of Cuba.

1353 GMT (8:53 a.m. EST)

The shuttle is now rolling to the right as part of the four speed-slowing banks.

1352 GMT (8:52 a.m. EST)

Now 15 minutes from landing. The shuttle is less than 900 miles from the runway.

1351 GMT (8:51 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is making landfall over Central America.

1346 GMT (8:46 a.m. EST)

The shuttle has crossed the equator as it flies over the Pacific.

1345 GMT (8:45 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is 44 miles in altitude, traveling at a speed of 15,000 mph.

1342 GMT (8:42 a.m. EST)

Time to touchdown now 25 minutes. NASA says Atlantis' landing weight will be 206,212 pounds. That is about 61,000 pounds lighter than the orbiter weighed at liftoff.

1341 GMT (8:41 a.m. EST)

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.

1335 GMT (8:35 a.m. EST)

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.

Touchdown remains set for 9:07 a.m. EST in Florida.

1334 GMT (8:34 a.m. EST)

Another update to the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. It will be a left-overhead turn of 247 degrees.

1332 GMT (8:32 a.m. EST)

Atlantis descending through an altitude of 102 miles.

1327 GMT (8:27 a.m. EST)

Now 40 minutes to touchdown. Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility was built in 1975. The concrete strip is 300 feet wide and 15,000 feet long with 1,000-foot overruns at each end. The runway is located about three miles northwest of the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building.

1323 GMT (8:23 a.m. EST)

All three Auxiliary Power Units are now up and running.

1321 GMT (8:21 a.m. EST)

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 8:35 a.m. EST.

1317 GMT (8:17 a.m. EST)

Touchdown is 50 minutes away. This will be the 67th shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center.

1308 GMT (8:08 a.m. EST)

The sweeping turn to align with the runway has been updated by Mission Control. The Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15, will be a left-overhead turn of 185 degrees.

1303 GMT (8:03 a.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Atlantis has successfully completed the deorbit burn for the trip back home. Landing is scheduled for 9:07 a.m. EST at the Cape.

1301 GMT (8:01 a.m. EST)

The burn continues in progress.

1300 GMT (8:00 a.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards above the Indian Ocean, Atlantis has begun the deorbit burn. The firing of the twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines on the tail of the shuttle will last two minutes and 43 seconds, slowing the craft by about 200 mph to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Atlantis to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a touchdown at 9:07 a.m. EST.

1255 GMT (7:55 a.m. EST)

Atlantis is in the proper orientation for the deorbit burn. And pilot Alan Poindexter has activated one of three Auxiliary Power Units in advance of the burn. 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.

1232 GMT (7:32 a.m. EST)

GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! With good weather at Kennedy Space Center, entry flight director Bryan Lunney in Mission Control just gave the "go" for Atlantis to perform the deorbit burn at 7:59 a.m. EST that will commit the shuttle for the trip back to Earth.

Landing in Florida is set for 9:07 a.m. EST.

1223 GMT (7:23 a.m. EST)

Pilot Alan Poindexter is putting the Auxiliary Power Units cockpit switches in the ready-to-start configuration.

1157 GMT (6:57 a.m. EST)

The astronauts have been given the OK to start "fluid loading" procedures in which they drink large quantities of liquids to help in the readaptation to gravity.

1145 GMT (6:45 a.m. EST)

The latest update from Mission Control shows a deorbit burn ignition time of 7:59:22 a.m. EST. The retrograde burn should last two minutes and 43 seconds.

Atlantis is headed for Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center. Commander Steve Frick will guide the shuttle through a 235-degree left-overhead turn to align with the northwest-to-southeast runway.

1130 GMT (6:30 a.m. EST)

At this point in the deorbit preparation timeline, the crew should be donning their bright orange pressure suits won during launches and landings. Weather continues to be favorable at the Kennedy Space Center for an on-time homecoming today.

1107 GMT (6:07 a.m. EST)

Now three hours from landing at the Kennedy Space Center.

1032 GMT (5:32 a.m. EST)

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.

1028 GMT (5:28 a.m. EST)

Atlantis' 60-foot-long payload bay doors are now closed and locked in preparation for today's fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere and landing at Kennedy Space Center.

The crew reported all of the Freon flex hoses on the door radiators retracted normally. A kink in one of those hoses had been a source of concern before launch.

1014 GMT (5:14 a.m. EST)

The crew of space shuttle Atlantis has been given a "go" to close the payload bay doors for this morning's return to Earth. Cooling has been switched from the radiators in the doors to the flash evaporator system that uses water stored on the shuttle to keep onboard systems from overheating.

With an excellent weather forecast at Kennedy Space Center, the astronauts are preparing their spaceship to fire its twin braking rockets at 7:59 a.m. to slip from orbit, beginning a long glide through the atmosphere for a 9:07 a.m. EST touchdown at the Florida spaceport.

Here is a detailed timeline for today's landing (in EST):

03:59:54 AM...Begin deorbit timeline
04:14:54 AM...Radiators stowed
04:24:54 AM...Mission specialists seat installation
04:30:54 AM...Computers set for deorbit prep
04:34:54 AM...Hydraulic system prepared for entry
04:59:54 AM...Flash evaporator cooling system checkout
05:05:54 AM...Final payload deactivation
05:19:54 AM...Payload bay doors closed
05:29:54 AM...Mission control 'go' for OPS-3 entry software load
05:39:54 AM...OPS-3 transition
06:04:54 AM...Entry switch list verification
06:14:54 AM...Deorbit burn update
06:19:54 AM...Crew entry review
06:34:54 AM...Commander/pilot don entry suits
06:51:54 AM...Inertial measurement unit alignment
06:59:54 AM...Commander/pilot strap in; others don suits
07:16:54 AM...Shuttle steering check
07:19:54 AM...Hydraulic power system prestart
07:26:54 AM...Toilet deactivation
07:34:54 AM...Payload bay vent doors closed for entry
07:39:54 AM...MIssion control 'go' for deorbit burn
07:45:54 AM...Mission specialists seat ingress
07:54:54 AM...Single hydraulic power unit start

07:59:54 AM...Deorbit ignition (dV: 197.7 mph; dT: 02:39)
08:02:33 AM...Deorbit burn complete (altitude: 211.6 sm)

08:35:59 AM...Atmospheric entry (altitude: 75.6 sm)
08:40:59 AM...1st roll command to left
08:52:05 AM...1st left-to-right roll reversal
08:54:00 AM...C-band radar acquisition
09:01:06 AM...Velocity less than mach 2.5 (altitude: 84,200 feet)
09:03:18 AM...Velocity less than mach 1 (altitude: 50,700 feet)
09:03:42 AM...Shuttle banks 301 degrees to line up on runway 33
09:07:39 AM...Landing


The Atlantis astronauts checked out the shuttle's re-entry systems today and packed for landing Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center to close out a successful space station assembly mission. Forecasters are predicting near ideal conditions at the Florida spaceport, with scattered clouds, light winds and good visibility expected.

Read our full story.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

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