Atlantis and its crew of five glided to a landing at Kennedy Space Center late Tuesday, ending a 5.3-million-mile mission that saw successful installation of the International Space Station's new airlock Quest.
The Atlantis crew, Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Charlie Hobaugh and Mission Specialists Janet Kavandi, Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly, spent eight days docked to the station during their almost 13-day flight. Reilly and Gernhardt completed three spacewalks to help with Quest's installation and its fitting out with four high-pressure tanks, two oxygen and two nitrogen.
Lindsey and Hobaugh fired Atlantis' orbital maneuvering system engines at 9:32 p.m. CDT to drop the shuttle out of orbit for the 10:39 p.m. landing at KSC on the 3-mile-long Shuttle Landing Facility runway. Their landing was the 55th shuttle landing and the 13th night landing at KSC. Florida weather cooperated beautifully, with none of the rain showers that caused waveoff of two landing opportunities a day earlier.
The Atlantis crew is expected to return to Houston on Thursday for a 4 p.m. public welcome home at Ellington Field's Hangar 990. For updates on crew arrival time at Ellington, please call 281 483-8600.
Aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition Two crew, Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Susan Helms and Jim Voss, will be awakened just before midnight to resume their full work schedule after two light days of activity. Flight controllers in Moscow successfully performed the fourth of five scheduled orbital adjustment burns using jet thrusters on the Progress supply vehicle docked at the rear of the Service Module Tuesday afternoon. The maneuvers are designed to optimize the station's orbit for the arrival of the next Progress vehicle in August and the Russian Docking Compartment in September.
The station is in excellent condition, orbiting at an average altitude of about 240 statute miles. The next space station status report will be issued Aug. 1, or sooner if events warrant.
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