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Atlantis Heads Home


Atlantis Heads Home

Space Shuttle Atlantis atop NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Image 
above: NASA's modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with Atlantis on top 
lift offs to begin its ferry-flight back to Kennedy Space Center in 
Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas
+ View Larger Image 

07.01.07 12:30 p.m. EDT
Early Sunday morning, Space Shuttle Atlantis began its journey back to 
Kennedy Space Center "piggy-backed" on top of a modified 747 jetliner 
called the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

The enroute plan includes refueling stops and a stop overnight. The 
anticipated arrival at the Kennedy Space Center will be no earlier than 
Monday July 2 with a possibility of arriving Tuesday July 3 if weather 
conditions are not favorable for a Monday landing.

Atlantis landed at Edwards concluding a successful assembly mission to 
the International Space Station with Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot 
Lee Archambault at the controls. Atlantis landed at 3:49 p.m. EDT on 
June 22.

The STS-117 mission astronauts returned to Johnson Space Center on 
Saturday, June 23. Their return was marked by a traditional welcome home 
ceremony at Ellington Field in Houston.

The STS-117 crew began its mission June 8 and arrived at the station 
June 10. They quickly began work to install the Starboard 3 and 4 
(S3/S4) truss structure to the outpost and retracted a set of arrays on 
the Port 6 (P6) truss. The (S3/S4) contains a new set of solar arrays 
that increases station power-generation capabilities. The P6 will be 
relocated during a future assembly mission.

Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, Jim Reilly 
and Steven Swanson conducted a total of four spacewalks to activate the 
S3/S4 and to retract the P6 arrays. During the third spacewalk, Olivas 
repaired an out of position thermal blanket on the left orbital 
maneuvering system pod.

Landing also marked the end of a record-setting spaceflight by Mission 
Specialist Suni Williams. She broke the record for the longest 
spaceflight by a woman and she also became the record-holder for the 
most hours outside a spacecraft by a female, completing four spacewalks 
during Expedition 14.

Williams' journey began in December with the launch of STS-116. She 
lived on the space station for six months before switching places on the 
STS-117 crew with Clayton Anderson, who is now a flight engineer on the 
station. When Atlantis landed, she had accumulated 194 days, 18 hours 
and 58 minutes during her spaceflight.

STS-117 is the 118th shuttle mission and 21st mission to visit the space 
station. The next mission, STS-118, is slated to launch in August.

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