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The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-135
Payload: Raffaello
Launch: July 8, 2011
Time: 11:29 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: July 21 @ 5:57 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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The Crew




Cdr Chris Ferguson

Pilot Doug Hurley

MS 1 Sandy Magnus

MS 2 Rex Walheim





Astronauts ready Atlantis for Thursday's predawn landing
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: July 20, 2011


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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--The crew of the shuttle Atlantis, working through one of the busiest days of their mission, tested the orbiter's re-entry systems Wednesday and packed up for landing Thursday to close out NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission.


Credit: NASA
 
Along with deploying a small solar cell research satellite, commander Christopher Ferguson and pilot Douglas Hurley practiced landing procedures with a video game-like simulator and all four astronauts -- Ferguson, Hurley, Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim -- fielded a final round of questions from the media.

"What I've kind of told everybody all along was that we were not going to fully appreciate the significance of the event until after the wheels have stopped," Ferguson told CBS News. "Just yesterday in the middeck I was talking to Sandy about the fact that you know what, I really do feel like it's coming near the end. And I can almost sense that final 'wheels stopped' call.

"It's going to be tough, it's going to be an emotional moment for a lot of people who have dedicated their lives to the shuttle program for 30 years. But we're going to try to keep it upbeat, we're going to try to keep it light and we're going to try to make it a celebration of the tremendous, crowning achievements that have occurred over the last 30 years with the tremendous satellites that have been deployed from the shuttle and of course, construction of the International Space Station."

Floating in the shuttle cockpit with Hurley, Magnus and Walheim, Ferguson said the 135th shuttle mission successfully delivered enough supplies, equipment and spare parts to the International Space Station to keep the lab complex going through 2012. That will give NASA a bit of a cushion in case commercial rocket companies run into problems developing new unmanned cargo ships to take over from the shuttle.

"No mission is successful until you're finally on the ground," Ferguson said. "I would have to say that up to this point, it's been highly successful. Sandy, Rex, Doug, we all put forth 110 percent, we got about (five-and-a-half tons) of cargo transferred into and out of space station. We have them all set, they're in a good posture to wait for about a year until commercial partners come on board and begin the resupply missions the shuttle formerly had."

Commercial cargo ships will be joined by private sector manned spacecraft later in the decade, part of a push by the Obama administration to turn over "routine" transportation to and from low-Earth orbit to commercial rocket providers while NASA focuses on deep space exploration. Critics have charged that tight budgets and uncertain political support put manned spaceflight at risk in the United States, but Walheim told CBS News he sees a bright future.

"We're in a kind of a transition period, which is a little bit uncomfortable as usual," he said. "But what we're going to be doing is handing over the access to low-Earth orbit, getting to the space station, to commercial providers. That'll free up NASA to do the heavy lifting of the beyond-low-Earth orbit flights, to go to places we haven't been for a long time, or ever, like the moon or an asteroid or maybe Mars.

"So it's a kind of a two-pronged effort," he said. "We'll get through this transition part. It'll be hard, but we'll get there and we'll be going farther and farther and going new places real soon."

Magnus said the program would succeed because of "a huge number of people worldwide who passionately believe in space flight and who dedicate their lives to it."

"And it's because of these people that the shuttle program was so successful for the last 30 years, and we were able to do the amazing things we were able to do," she said. "It's because of these people the International Space Station has been so successful and will continue to be successful."

In a lighter moment, Magnus was asked whether her crewmates ever gave her a hard time because of her "space hair."

"Usually for events like this, I like to leave it out because it demonstrates we are indeed in zero gravity," she laughed. "I mean, these guys have kind of boring hair, so it's not so fun. But they do give me trouble occasionally about the Medusa-like effect of it."

Shuttle crews normally include six or seven astronauts to get all the day-before-landing chores done. But Atlantis was launched with a reduced crew of four to accommodate possible rescue scenarios, complicating the pre-entry timeline. Even though he knew the workload would be challenging, Hurley said he was surprised at the fast pace of the crew's work in orbit.

"We've had to just work so closely together and be so well coordinated because you know, your typical shuttle mission, there's six or seven folks, so you tend to be working more with another person," he told CBS. "And there've been a lot of times where we've just had to depend on the other person to cover a separate task. I don't think I fully appreciated how much more work we'd have to do with only four. So it's been a little bit of an eye opener, because we really have been just stretching it, working very hard every day."

But that's not to say they haven't had a bit of fun occasionally. After launching the small solar cell research satellite -- Picosat -- Walheim read a "deployment poem" to mission control:

One more satellite takes its place in the sky,
The last of many that the shuttle let fly.
Magellan, Galileo, Hubble, and more
Have sailed beyond her payload bay doors.
There's still science books, and still more to come,
The shuttle's legacy will live on when her flying is done.
We wish Picosat success, in space where it roams,
They can stay up here, but we're goin' home.
Yes soon for the last time we'll gently touch down,
Then celebrate the shuttle with our friends on the ground.
With good weather expected, Ferguson and Hurley plan to fire Atlantis' braking rockets at 4:49:04 a.m. Thursday to drop out of orbit. Landing at the Kennedy Space Center is targeted for 5:56:58 a.m. A second opportunity is available one orbit later at 7:32:55 a.m.

NASA is not staffing its backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Thursday. If the weather or some other problem prevents a Florida landing, the crew will remain in orbit an additional 24 hours and head for one coast or the other on Friday.

Assuming an on-time landing, Atlantis will have logged 5,284,862 miles during its 33rd mission, pushing the orbiter's total mileage to 125,935,769 miles. Over the course of its career, Atlantis will have spent 307 days in space, logging 4,848 orbits.

Earlier this week, Ferguson told the lead flight control team, ending its final shift at the Johnson Space Center, "to look up and make a memory."

"And I'll say that to everybody who has an opportunity to perhaps see the landing realtime or see the shuttle on the runway," he told an interviewer Wednesday. "Take a good look at it and make a memory, because you're never going to see anything like this again. It's been an incredible ride."

Here is an updated timeline of the remainder of the crew's planned activities for flight day 13 (in EDT and mission elapsed time; includes revision M of the NASA television schedule; best viewed with fixed-width font):


DATE/EDT...DD...HH...MM...SS...EVENT

07/20
06:34 AM...11...19...05...00...L-1 comm check (Merritt Island)
06:54 AM...11...19...25...00...Deorbit review
07:24 AM...11...19...55...00...Cabin stow resumes
07:59 AM...11...20...30...00...Playback of undocking video
08:00 AM...11...20...31...00...Mission status briefing on NASA TV
09:49 AM...11...22...20...00...L-1 comm check (Dryden)
09:49 AM...11...22...20...00...Ergometer stow
10:00 AM...11...22...31...00...STS-135 ascent highlights replay
10:14 AM...11...22...45...00...Wing leading edge sensor deactivation
10:34 AM...11...23...05...00...PGSC laptop computer stow (part 1)
11:00 AM...11...23...31...00...STS-135 ascent highlights replay
11:39 AM...12...00...10...00...Ku-band antenna stow
01:29 PM...12...02...00...00...Crew sleep begins
03:00 PM...12...03...31...00..."Launching our Dreams" video on NASA TV
04:00 PM...12...04...31...00...Flight day 13 highlights on NASA TV
09:59 PM...12...10...30...00...Crew wakeup

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VIDEO: LAUNCH WITH THE ASTRONAUTS IN THE COCKPIT PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA FROM LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 11 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FAREWELL CEREMONY FOR SHUTTLE CREW PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF RAFFAELLO OPERATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: MODULE RETURNED TO SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: RAFFAELLO DETACHED FROM STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES CARGO MODULE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 10 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 9 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 8 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS THE ASTRONAUTS IN SPACE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION CREW NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PHILLY TV AND RADIO AND REUTERS INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: CBS NEWS RADIO, PHILLY TV AND THE AP INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 7 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: CHICAGO, OAKLAND AND PHILLY TV INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: FOX NEWS RADIO AND ST. LOUIS TV INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 6 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FINAL SHUTTLE-ERA SPACEWALK CONCLUDES PLAY
VIDEO: PROTECTIVE COVER PUT ON VACANT DOCKING PORT PLAY
VIDEO: FIXING SNAGGED WIRE ON ZARYA GRAPPLE FIXTURE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKER GOES SIGHT-SEEING HIGH ABOVE EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: SATELLITE SERVICING DEMONSTRATOR GIVEN TO DEXTRE PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOTIC REFUELING MISSION MOVED TO THE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS SWAP POSITIONS ABOARD ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: PUMP STOWED IN ATLANTIS BAY FOR RETURN TO EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: STUNNING VIEWS OF ASTRONAUT RIDING ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: FAILED PUMP FREED FROM STORAGE BOX PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 1 GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: RAFFAELLO MODULE CONNECTED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: CARGO-DELIVERY MODULE UNBERTHED FROM ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES MODULE IN SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING OF SHUTTLE TO STATION AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARCS OUT IN FRONT OF SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS PERFORMS THE 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY


VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL STS-135 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS BLASTS OFF! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GO INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER FORECAST BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH SITE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS FERGUSON PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH DOUG HURLEY PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH SANDY MAGNUS PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH REX WALHEIM PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-135 MISSION OVERVIEW PRESENTATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: CREW CHATS WITH PRESS AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HEAR FROM ATLANTIS' CREW DURING ROLLOUT PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ARRIVES ATOP LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS WITNESS FINAL SHUTTLE ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HOISTING ATLANTIS TO TANK AND SRBS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER GOES VERTICAL PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SLING CAPTURES ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS LEAVES PROCESSING HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER TRANSPORTER PICKS UP ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF

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