Spectacular Mission Heads Home For The Holidays
Space shuttle Atlantis and its
seven-member crew are expected to return to Earth on Friday, Nov.
27, after an 11-day mission. The two landing opportunities at
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida are at 9:44 a.m. and 11:19
a.m. EST and are currently forecast to use Runway 33.
NASA will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before
permitting Atlantis and its crew to land. If bad weather prevents a
return to Florida on Friday or Saturday, both Kennedy and the
backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California will be
activated for consideration on Sunday.
After touchdown in Florida, the astronauts will undergo physical
examinations and meet with their families. They are expected to
make brief remarks at the runway and hold a news conference
approximately six hours after landing. Atlantis undocked from the
International Space Station at 4:53 a.m. EST Wednesday, ending a
successful resupply visit that included three spacewalks. The total
docked time was 6 days, 17 hours and 2 minutes.
Atlantis brought to the station about 14 tons of cargo in its
payload bay, including two large carriers with heavy spare parts
that were installed on the station. The shuttle also carried about
a ton of cargo in its crew cabin. It is bringing home about the
same weight of cabin cargo from the orbiting laboratory.
During a purge of the space shuttle waste water tank Wednesday
morning, Mission Control noticed a reduction in the flow from the
nozzle that vents the waste water into space. This has occurred on
past shuttle missions and is not expected to be an issue. Capsule
Communicator Stan Love told Atlantis Commander Charles Hobaugh it
is likely no further waste dumps will be necessary before Friday's
Shuttle astronauts used the camera on the Orbiter Boom Sensor
System to survey the condition of Atlantis’ waste water dump
nozzle. Capcom Megan McArthur told Commander Charles Hobaugh that
it appears there is a slight discoloration that could be frost, but
no ice. It is likely that there is a blockage in the line, which
will not be a concern for a planned Friday landing.
Photo Courtesy NASA
The waste water system stores waste from the crew cabin humidity
separator and from the crew. The tank is located below the crew
compartment middeck floor, and the dump nozzle is on the left side
of the shuttle.
This flight was not without some other unusual though quite
welcome moments... On Sunday, Bresnik told the flight controllers
his new daughter, Abigail Mae Bresnik, had been born in Houston at
11:04 p.m. CST Saturday. He said his wife Rebecca and new daughter,
6 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long, were doing well. Bresnik
got the news by private phone patch through mission control shortly
after the crew was awakened.