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Atlantis Set to Land on Thursday


*Atlantis Set to Land on Thursday*

Atlantis will glide in for landing, guided by Commander Brent Jett and 
Pilot Chris Ferguson, as the ship makes its steep descent from space 
into the pre-dawn darkness. Pulled back to Earth by gravity alone, 
Atlantis' approach to the coastal Florida runway is at a prescribed 
steep, nose-down dive. The spacecraft flares to a shallow nose-up, 
tail-down position for landing -- similar to a commercial jet aircraft 
-- about a mile before reaching the Shuttle Landing Facility's runway. 
The orbiter's main landing gear touches down at a speed of about 215 
mph, followed seconds later by nose gear touchdown. As the drag chute 
deploys, the orbiter coasts to a stop after rolling over a mile down the 

The orbiter landing convoy is then sent to "safe" the vehicle before the 
six crew member take their first steps back on Earth as they exit 
Atlantis through the Crew Hatch Access Vehicle. After receiving a quick 
check by doctors, the entire crew can do a walk-around visual inspection 
of the vehicle.

The return of the six-member crew will conclude the successful mission 
to resume construction of the International Space Station by installing 
the P3/P4 integrated truss and solar arrays.
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