Monday, November 30, 2009

Atlantis Astros Feted Today; Endeavour Crew Rehearse for STS-130

After a flawless mission to resupply the International Space Station, the STS-129 crew members now are back at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will be honored with a homecoming ceremony at nearby Ellington Field today.

Meanwhile, preparations for space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are ramping up for the STS-130 mission targeted to launch Feb. 4, 2010.

Endeavour is scheduled to roll over from the orbiter processing facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in late December. There, it will be lifted and attached to the waiting external tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

The STS-130 crew members, Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts Jr., Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire, are rehearsing deorbit procedures today at Johnson.

Endeavour will deliver a third connecting module, the Tranquility node, to the station in addition to the seven-windowed Cupola module, which will be used as a control room for robotics.

Space Shuttle Mission: STS-129

STS-129 astronauts after landing at KSC
Image above: At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-129 Commander Charles O. Hobaugh comments on his successful mission for NASA Television. From left are Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Mike Foreman; Hobaugh, at microphone; Mission Specialist Robert L. Satcher Jr.; Pilot Barry E. Wilmore; and Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
› High-res image

› Meet the STS-130 Crew

Atlantis Lands in Florida
Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts ended an 11-day journey with a 9:44 a.m. EST landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis flew 171 orbits around Earth and traveled 4,490,138 miles since its Nov. 16 launch.

The STS-129 mission included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the International Space Station's truss, or backbone. The platforms hold large spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired.

The shuttle crew delivered about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. The shuttle left the space station 86 percent complete, weighing 759,222 pounds.

Astronaut Nicole Stott returned to Earth after 91 days in space. She had spent 87 days aboard the space station and 80 days as an Expedition 20/21 flight engineer. She is the last astronaut who will be transported to or from the space station by the space shuttle.

Atlantis' main gear touched down at 9:44:23 a.m., followed by the nose gear at 9:44:36 and wheel stop at 9:45:05 a.m.

STS-129 was the 129th space shuttle mission, the 31st for Atlantis and the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station. It was the fifth and final flight of 2009.