Thursday, July 21, 2011

Atlantis Lands At KSC

NASA Photo of Atlantis Landing
The space shuttle Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center this morning at 5:57 a.m., marking the end of a thrity-year era of the first renewable space craft capable of sending humans into low earth orbit.

Atlantis graced Brevard County with its signature double sonic boom for the final time as it passed over on its way to KSC.

Favorable weather made way for a perfect landing on the shuttle landing strip.

"The brave astronauts of STS-135 are emblematic of the shuttle program -- skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds who propelled America to continued leadership in space with the shuttle's many successes," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This final shuttle flight marks the end of an era, but today, we recommit ourselves to continuing human spaceflight and taking the necessary- and difficult - steps to ensure America's leadership in human spaceflight for years to come."

Since STS-1 launched on April 12, 1981, 355 individuals from 16 countries flew 852 times aboard the shuttle. The five shuttles traveled more than 542 million miles and hosted more than 2,000 experiments in the fields of Earth, astronomy, biological and materials sciences.

The shuttles docked with two space stations, the Russian Mir and the International Space Station. Shuttles deployed 180 payloads, including satellites, returned 52 from space and retrieved, repaired and redeployed seven spacecraft.

The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. They delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment and other supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module - including 2,677 pounds of food - that will sustain space station operations for the next year. The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter Raffaello brought back nearly 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials from the station.
Atlantis will now be prepared for display at the Kennedy Space Center.