Space shuttle Atlantis takes another attempt at trying to land. The first attempt was waved off due to bad weather at Kennedy Space Centre. KSC isn’t looking good for the second attempt either and NASA is now targetting Edwards Air Force Base in California. That’s on orbit 219 which has an opportunity for both KSC and Edwards.
Conditions at Edwards are currently looking good and the space shuttle crew has been given the go for fluid loading (= drinking lots of fluids to aid in the transition to Earth’s gravity). If given the final go, the deorbit burn would happen at 2:43pm EDT (20:43 CET) and the landing at 3:49pm EDT (21:49 CET).
- 20:20: Atlantis is go for the deorbit burn. The burn will happen in a little over 20 minutes.
- 20:23: Atlantis will now be positioned to perform the deorbit burn. The burn happens tail first, or retrograde, which slows Atlantis’ orbital speed with about 200 mph. That will put it the shuttle on a re-entry path.
- 20:41: Mission Control reports a good config for the burn.
- 20:43: The propulsion officer at Mission Control reports that the burn is in progress with the 2 engines performing normally.
- 20:47: Deorbit burn complete!
- 20:52: Atlantis will be repositioned from tail-first to nose-first, or prograde, for entry interface (the point where Atlantis starts to experience the first effects of Earth’s atmosphere) and re-entry.
- 21:18: Less than one minute until entry interface.
- 21:19: Entry interface takes place at an altitude between 125 and 130 kilometers with the orbiter more than 8000 kilometers away from the landing site. It then takes around half an hour to stop on the ground.
- 21:36: Atlantis is on track for a landing at Edwards in 13 minutes.
- 21:38: Atlantis is now within range of the tracking stations at Dryden, NASA’s flight research centre.
- 21:42: And we have visual contact with Atlantis!
- 21:47: Atlantis crew reports runway in sight.
- 21:49: Full stop on runway 22 of Edwards AFB! Atlantis has safely landed!
STS-117 was the 118th space shuttle flight and this landing was the 51st at Edwards.
The Atlantis crew will now go through post-flight checklists before leaving the orbiter. The orbiter needs to be flown back to KSC for post-flight processing. A ferry flight on top of a Boeing 747 could take place after 7 days.