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SPECIAL REPORT
Mission Atlantis

Complete Coverage: Final Flight Of Nasa's Space...

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HIGHLIGHTS
Friday, July 08
KSC Launch

Atlantis Launches From Kennedy Space Center

11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT)

Saturday, July 09
Flight Day 2

Shuttle Heat Shield Inspection Begins

8:16 a.m. EDT (1216 GMT)

Sunday, July 10
Flight Day 3

DOCKING DAY: Shuttle Arrives at ISS

11:09 a.m. EDT (1509 GMT)

Monday, July 11
Flight Day 4

Cargo Pod Attached to Space Station

6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT)

Tuesday, July 12
Flight Day 5

Space Station Crew Spacewalk Begins

8:41 a.m. EDT (1241 GMT)

Wednesday, July 13
Flight Day 6

Cargo Transfers and In-Flight Interview

Interview at: 12:01 p.m. EDT (1601 GMT)

Thursday, July 14
Flight Day 7

Shuttle Crew Interview, Time Off

Interviews:

6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT)

9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT)

Off-Duty Time:

9:41 a.m. EDT (1341 GMT)

Friday, July 15
Flight Day 8

Crew Interviews and Joint-Crew Conference

Interviews:

6:41 a.m. EDT (1041 GMT)

8:01 a.m. EDT (1201 GMT)

Crew Press Conference:

9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT)

Saturday, July 16
Flight Day 9

Cargo Delivery and Crew Interview

Interview at:

7:36 a.m. EDT (1136 GMT)

Sunday, July 17
Flight Day 10

Cargo Transfer Work

Monday, July 18
Flight Day 11

Cargo Pod Returns to Shuttle Bay

7:16 a.m. EDT (1116 GMT)

Crew Farewell Ceremony

9:46 a.m. EDT (1346 GMT)

Tuesday, July 19
Flight Day 12

UNDOCKING DAY:

Shuttle Leaves Space Station

1:59 a.m. EDT (0559 GMT)

Wednesday, July 20
Flight Day 13

Flight Control Systems Check

1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT)

Picosatellite Deployed From Shuttle

3:11 a.m. EDT (0711 GMT)

Interviews:

6:11 a.m. EDT (1011 GMT)

7:26 a.m. EDT (1126 GMT)

Thursday, July 21
Flight Day 14

LANDING DAY

KSC Landing

5:56 am EDT (0956 GMT)

Landing+ 1 Hour

Post-Landing Press Conference

Landing + 4 Hours

Post-Landing Crew Conference

UPDATES
Atlantis' Crew Leaves the Shuttle
21 July 2011, 07:14 AM EDT

After gliding to a smooth landing at 5:57 a.m. EDT, the shuttle astronauts worked through a checklist with Mission Control to safe the vehicle on the ground.

Atlantis' four astronauts, commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim, have all exited the vehicle now as ground teams continue their work at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.

The astronauts are now being greeted by NASA officials, including administrator Charles Bolden, shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach and Lori Garver, the agency's deputy administrator. The four crewmembers will have the opportunity to walk around their vehicle and soak in the moment with other members of the shuttle program.

--Denise Chow

TOUCHDOWN! Atlantis Lands for the Final Time
21 July 2011, 05:57 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space shuttle Atlantis glided down to Earth and slowed to a stop here on the runway of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The orbiter arrived less than an hour before dawn, heralding the end of the 30-year space shuttle program. Four astronauts returned to Earth aboard the spaceship, which flew the 135th shuttle mission, called STS-135.

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Atlantis in Home Stretch
21 July 2011, 05:36 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space shuttle Atlantis is just 25 minutes away from touching down here at the Kennedy Space Center in the last shuttle landing ever.

The orbiter is plunging its way through Earth's atmosphere, and is approaching the point of maximum heat on re-entry. Atlantis is currently approaching the coast of Central America.

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis Begins Descent Back to Earth
21 July 2011, 04:53 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space shuttle Atlantis has performed a de-orbit burn to come out of Earth orbit and begin the descent back to the ground, where it will touch down here at Kennedy Space Center.

The shuttle is a little more than an hour away from its final landing, slated for 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis "Go" for De-Orbit Burn
21 July 2011, 04:18 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Mission Control gave the space shuttle Atlantis a "go" to conduct a de-orbit burn of its engines at 4:49 a.m. ET (0849 GMT) to begin the descent down to Earth.

--Clara Moskowitz

Weather 'Go' For Final Shuttle Landing
21 July 2011, 04:00 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The weather here at Kennedy Space Center is "go" for landing today, capcom Charlie Hobaugh told Atlantis' commander Chris Ferguson.

The shuttle is about an hour away from making a "de-orbit burn" of its engines to initiate re-entry.

--Clara Moskowitz

Astronauts Awake for Landing Day
20 July 2011, 09:39 PM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The four astronauts aboard shuttle Atlantis' final mission awoke to begin their landing day today at 9:29 p.m. EDT (0129 GMT Thursday). The wakeup song today was Kate Smith's rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America."

"What a classic patriotic song," Ferguson said. "So appropriate for what will likely be the shuttle's final day in orbit. Thank you to America for supporting this program, and we'll see you in a few short hours hopefully."

The shuttle is slated to land Tuesday (July 21) at 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Crew Goes to Sleep for Last Night in Space
20 July 2011, 01:48 PM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.-- The space shuttle Atlantis astronauts have gone to bed for their last sleep in orbit before landing tomorrow at Kennedy Space Center here.

Commander Chris Ferguson took time out to mention a significant anniversary.

"Forty-two years ago today Neil Armstrong walked on the moon." Ferguson said. "I consider myself fortunate that I was there to actually remember the event. I think there was probably a lot of folks in that room who didn’t have that privilege or honor."

The spaceflyers are scheduled to land Thursday (July 21) at 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis Deploys Final Satellite in Space Shuttle History
20 July 2011, 04:25 AM EDT
HOUSTON — The space shuttle Atlantis released the 180th and last shuttle payload ever in the form of a tiny satellite called PicoSat.
 
The mini spacecraft is covered with solar panels to test new solar cell technology. After the satellite was released into orbit mission specialist Rex Walheim read a poem in its honor.

"One more satellite takes its place in the sky

The last of many that the shuttle let fly
Magellan, Galileo, Hubble, and more
Have sailed beyond her payload bay doors
    
There's still science books, and still more to come
The shuttle's legacy will live on when her flying is done
We wish PicoSat success in space where it roams
It can stay up here, but we're going home
    
Yes, soon for the last time we'll gently touch down
Then celebrate the shuttle with our friends on the ground
," Walheim said.

"Outstanding, Rex, we applaud you," capcom Barry Wilmore said amid cheers from Mission Control.
 
--Clara Moskowitz
Atlantis Astronauts Awake For Last Full Day in Space
19 July 2011, 10:19 PM EDT
HOUSTON—The STS-135 crew was awoken this morning by the musical piece "Fanfare For The Common Man" by Aaron Copland, played along with a video message from employees at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
 
"Good morning, Atlantis! Kennedy salutes you. See you back at wheel stop," the Kennedy crowd cheered.

"Good morning, Houston, and to the great folks at the Kennedy Space Center who'vecared for these vehicles for the last 30 years, a special good morning to you," Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson replied.

The astronauts will spend their day deploying a mini satellite and preparing for a predawn landing Thursday.

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Crew Completes 12th Day on Orbit
19 July 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

HOUSTON—The shuttle Atlantis astronauts have gone to sleep after a busy day that included the last space shuttle undocking from the International Space Station.

The crew is now focused on preparing for re-entry and landing Thursday morning. They are set to wake Tuesday at 9:59 p.m. EDT to begin their final full day in space.

--Clara Moskowitz

Space Station Rotates While Atlantis Watches
19 July 2011, 03:09 AM EDT

HOUSTON — Astronauts onboard the International Space Station are rotating the vehicle 90 degrees while the shuttle Atlantis watches from a distance of 600 feet away. The maneuver, which will allow astronauts on both craft to capture photos of each other, will take about 26 minutes.

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis Undocks From ISS One Last Time
19 July 2011, 02:28 AM EDT

HOUSTON — The space shuttle Atlantis has undocked from the International Space Station, capping off 37 docked missions of the shuttle to the orbiting outpost.

The first docking of Atlantis to the ISS came in May of 2000. The space shuttles have cumulatively spent about 40 weeks docked at the station.

"The International Space Station now enters the era of utilization," Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson said. "Like a proud parent, we anticipate great things to follow. From this unique vantage point, we can see a great thing has been accomplished. Farewell ISS, make us proud."

Atlantis is slated to land back on Earth early Thursday (July 21).

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis Crew Awakes for Undocking Day
18 July 2011, 10:16 PM EDT

HOUSTON—The four astronauts onboard shuttle Atlantis woke Monday evening just after 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT Tuesday) to begin their 12th day in space, during which they will undock for the last time from the International Space Station.

The crew woke to the song "Don't Panic" by Coldplay, played especially for pilot Doug Hurley.

"Good morning Houston, I'd like to thank my wife Karen and my son Jack for the great song — they know I really like it," Hurley said. "We are getting ready for undock today. We get to do one last lap of Atlantis around ISS and start our trip home."

Hurley is married to fellow astronaut Karen Nyberg, who joined NASA in the same astronaut class as he did in 2000.

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Astronauts Go to Sleep
18 July 2011, 02:25 PM EDT

HOUSTON — The four astronauts onboard space shuttle Atlantis have finished their 11th day in space and begun their sleep shift.

The spaceflyers are onboard their orbiter, still attached to the International Space Station, after closing the hatches between the two vehicles earlier today. Atlantis will undock from the outpost Tuesday at 2:28 a.m. EDT (0628 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Astronauts Go to Sleep
18 July 2011, 01:59 PM EDT

HOUSTON — The four astronauts onboard space shuttle Atlantis have finished their 11th day in space and begun their sleep shift.

The spaceflyers are onboard their orbiter, still attached to the International Space Station, after closing the hatches between the two vehicles earlier today. Atlantis will undock from the outpost Tuesday at 2:28 a.m. EDT (0628 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Hatches Closed Between Atlantis and Station
18 July 2011, 09:09 AM EDT

HOUSTON — Astronauts officially closed the hatches between the International Space Station and the last visiting space shuttle today at 10:28 a.m. EDT (1428 GMT).

The shuttle astronauts said a final farewell to their six space station counterparts after spending 7 days, 21 hours and 41 minutes at the orbiting outpost.

Atlantis is due to undock Tuesday morning at 2:28 a.m. EDT (0628 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Raffaello Storage Module Stowed in Atlantis
18 July 2011, 07:48 AM EDT

HOUSTON — Astronauts have successfully transferred the large Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module from the outside of the space station into the shuttle Atlantis' payload bay. Raffaello is filled to the brim with trash and broken hardware to be returned to Earth with the shuttle.

Shuttle astronauts are gearing up to depart the space station. They plan to close the hatches between the two vehicles today at 9:19 a.m. EDT (1319 GMT).

--Clara Moskowitz

Astronauts Wake For Last Day at Space Station
17 July 2011, 11:15 PM EDT

HOUSTON—The crew of space shuttle Atlantis was awoken at 10:29 p.m. EDT (0229 GMT) to the song "Days Go By" by country star Keith Urban, played along with a recorded video message from workers here at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

"Good morning, Atlantis, from all of us at the Johnson Space Center. Have a great day!" the crowd shouted while holding up handmade signs for each crew member.

"Well, good morning, Houston," replied Atlantis' mission specialist Rex Walheim. "The days do go by, so we better start living and we are. We are enjoying every minute up here. Thanks so much for the greeting from the Johnson Space Center, our home — home of some of the hardest working, most talented people who have made some incredible things happen in spaceflight. We thank you for the greeting. We're looking forward to another great day in space."

The astronauts will finish packing up their orbiter today and say goodbye to the space station crew before closing the hatches between the shuttle and the orbiting outpost. Atlantis is due to depart the International Space Station early Tuesday (July 19).

--Clara Moskowitz

Shuttle Astronauts Pack for Trip Home
17 July 2011, 04:35 PM EDT

HOUSTON — The four space shuttle Atlantis astronauts are almost finished packing their orbiter for the trip back to Earth on Thursday (July 21). While the Raffaello cargo module is fully packed, the shuttle's middeck is about 84 percent packed with trash and broken equipment to be returned to Earth.

The packing job is turning out to take quite a while, and ran into some of the crew's time off today.

"The crew had another very busy day in space today," flight director Chris Edelen told reporters during a briefing. "The crew used a lot of their spare time. Unfortunately, they had to work through some of their off-duty time."

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis Astronauts Answer Student Questions
17 July 2011, 08:09 AM EDT
HOUSTON — Astronauts Doug Hurley and Rex Walheim took time out today from their STS-135 mission to answer a series of recorded questions from students about what life is like in space.
 
In response to the question, "Do you listen to music in space?" from one student, Walheim said he had done so this morning on his iPod. "I was just having a little trouble sleeping in," he said. "I got to listen to my favorite songs before we woke up this morning."
 
--Clara Moskowitz
Astronauts Begin 10th Day in Space
17 July 2011, 12:01 AM EDT
HOUSTON — The four space shuttle Atlantis astronauts woke for their 10th day in Earth orbit to the song "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, played with a special message from employees at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
 
The astronauts plan to finish unpacking Atlantis' haul of fresh supplies to the International Space Station and repack the orbiter with trash and other items to return to Earth. The crew will also enjoy some well-deserved time off on Sunday before beginning preparations for undocking from the space station early Tuesday (July 19).
 
--Clara Moskowitz
Singer Beyonce Knowles Wakes Up Shuttle Astronauts
16 July 2011, 01:13 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Atlantis' four astronauts woke up this morning at 11:29 p.m. EDT (0329 GMT) to the song "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyonce Knowles. The hit recording artist also recorded a special message for the crew.

"Good morning, Atlantis. This is Beyonce," she said. "Sandy, Chris, Doug and Rex, you inspire all of us to dare to live our dreams, to know that we're smart enough and strong enough to achieve them. This song is especially for my girl, Sandy, and all the women who've taken us to space with them and the girls who are our future explorers."

"Good morning, Houston," STS-135 mission specialist Sandy Magnus replied. "A big thanks to Beyonce for taking the time out of her schedule to record us a greeting, and we're ready for another day here on Atlantis and hopefully we as a team at NASA can keep our inspirational work up for the young people of America."

Today, the astronauts will continue to transfer and store hardware and other supplies that were brought up to the space station in Atlantis' mid-deck and inside the Raffaello module. Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

2:34 a.m. EDT – MPLM transfers resume

1:29 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

2:59 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

3:30 p.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Receive Wakeup Message from Paul McCartney
15 July 2011, 08:02 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts were woken up this morning at 12:59 a.m. EDT (0459 GMT) to Sir Paul McCartney's song, "Good Day Sunshine." The British crooner and former Beatle also pre-recorded a special message for the shuttle crew as they begin their eighth day in orbit.

"Good morning, guys," McCartney said. "Wake up! And good luck on this, your last mission. Well done."

"Good morning, Houston, and thank you for that message," STS-135 mission specialist Rex Walheim responded. "People around the world love Paul McCartney's music, and you can be sure that people above the Earth love his music too."

The Beatles' music has a long history of waking up astronauts in space, including classics like "Hard Day's Night" and "Here Comes the Sun," which were played during the STS-30, STS-116 and STS-127 missions.

Atlantis' crew was given an extra 30 minutes to sleep this morning after being woken up yesterday and having to spend about 40 minutes dealing with an issue that cropped up with one of the shuttle's onboard computers. Commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley will spend some time this morning trying to troubleshoot the glitch.

Today, the astronauts will speak to reporters in a series of live interviews, and then together with their station counterparts in a joint crew news conference. The station will also receive a special call from President Barack Obama today.

Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

2:39 a.m. EDT – MPLM transfers resume

6:44 a.m. EDT – Live interviews with CBS Radio / KYW-TV, Philadelphia, PA / Associated Press

8:04 a.m. EDT – Live interviews with WPVI-TV, Philadelphia, PA / KYW Radio, Philadelphia, PA / Reuters

9:24 a.m. EDT – Joint crew news conference

10:45 a.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

12:29 p.m. EDT – VIP call from President Barack Obama to Atlantis & ISS

2:59 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

3:29 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Troubleshoot Glitchy Space Shuttle Computer
14 July 2011, 07:14 PM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts were woken up roughly an hour and a half into their sleep period by an alert tone that signaled the failure of one of the shuttle's onboard computers.

The alarm came at 6:07 p.m. EDT (2207 GMT) Thursday (July 14), indicating that one of the shuttle's General Purpose Computers (GPC) had suffered a glitch.

The space shuttle carries five GPCs, with one always designated as a backup and the four others making up the orbiter's primary computer systems, according to NASA officials.

The computer that failed runs Atlantis' systems management, and to address the glitch, shuttle commander Chris Ferguson transferred the computer's functions to one of the others available. After testing and analysis by ground teams here in Mission Control, it was confirmed that the critical program was successfully transferred to another workstation.

"You all have done an absolutely fabulous job," mission controllers radioed to the shuttle crew. "We have polled the room, everyone is ready for you to go back to sleep."

To compensate for the extra work, the astronauts will get to sleep in an extra 30 minutes, with their wakeup call now coming at around 1:00 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) Friday.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle, Station Astronauts Get Time to Relax
14 July 2011, 10:19 AM EDT

HOUSTON – After spending the morning moving more cargo from Atlantis' mid-deck and the Raffaello module onto the International Space Station, the 10 spaceflyers aboard the orbiting outpost will now enjoy some well-deserved time off.

The shuttle and station crews will spend the rest of their day relaxing, resting up and enjoying the views of Earth out the station's windows. In live interviews with reporters yesterday, STS-135 mission specialist Sandy Magnus said the shuttle astronauts plan to soak in the spectacular sights from the outpost's Cupola observatory.

The astronauts will be off duty for the remainder of the day, and are scheduled to begin their sleep period at 4:29 p.m. EDT (2029 GMT).

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Receive Another Surprise Wakeup Call
14 July 2011, 02:01 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The shuttle Atlantis' astronauts were treated to another surprise wakeup call this morning at 1:29 a.m. EDT (0529 GMT). The spaceflyers were treated R.E.M.'s "Man on the Moon," including a special message from lead vocalist Michael Stipe.

"Good morning, Atlantis. This is Michael Stipe from R.E.M.," he said. "We wish you much success on your mission and thank all the women and men at NASA who have worked on shuttle for three decades. From Earth, a very good morning to you."

"Good morning, Houston, and all we can say up here is, wow," shuttle commander Chris Ferguson responded. "We would like to thank Mr. Michael Stipe for sending up that wonderful message and that great song. I know a lot of us up here have been listening to R.E.M. for a long, long time. It's some of the greatest music, and also reminds us of the moon landing next week anniversary, and we echo his sentiments to thank all the great people who've worked on this wonderful space shuttle. We're ready for another day in space."

Today, the astronauts will continue unpacking the shuttle Atlantis' mid-deck and the Raffaello module before enjoying some time off to relax. Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

4:04 a.m. EDT – Raffaello module (MPLM) transfers resume

6:59 a.m. EDT – Live interviews with Fox News Radio/KTVI-TV St. Louis, MO / KSDK-TV St. Louis, MO

9:19 a.m. EDT – Live interviews with WBBM-TV Chicago, IL / KTVU-TV Oakland, CA / WTXF-TV Philadelphia, PA

9:44 a.m. EDT – Atlantis / ISS crew off duty period

3:59 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

4:29 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

5:00 p.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Continue Unpacking and Household Chores
13 July 2011, 11:39 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The astronauts onboard the International Space Station are powering through a busy day in orbit.

Members of the station and shuttle crews are unpacking the enormous amount of cargo that was stored in the Raffaello module that was brought up in the shuttle Atlantis' payload bay. This work will continue for the remainder of the mission. Meanwhile, station residents Ron Garan and Mike Fossum are keeping busy with some household chores, namely maintenance on one of the station's toilets.

--Denise Chow

NASA Clears Atlantis' Heat Shield for Re-Entry
13 July 2011, 10:31 AM EDT

HOUSTON – After days of close analysis, STS-135 mission managers met yesterday (July 12) and cleared Atlantis' heat shield for re-entry into Earth's atmosphere at the end of its mission.

NASA officials pored through a wealth of data and images from two separate inspections of the sensitive tiles on Atlantis' wing-leading edges, nosecap and underbelly. Ground teams concluded that the orbiter's heat shield remains in good shape and did not incur any damage during launch, ascent or its time so far in orbit.

Atlantis is now scheduled to make a predawn landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT) on July 21.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Astronauts Receive Special Wakeup Call
13 July 2011, 06:59 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Atlantis' four astronauts were woken up this morning at 2:29 a.m. EDT (0629 GMT) with the song "Rocket Man" by Elton John, followed by a special message to the crew from the famed performer himself.

"Good morning, Atlantis! This is Elton John," the artist said in a pre-recorded message. "We wish you much success on your mission and a huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."

"Elton John, music legend – wow, that is absolutely fantastic," Atlantis' commander Chris Ferguson responded. "Thank you so much for taking the time and joining us this morning. It's great to be here, it's great to be in space."

John's popular hit, "Rocket Man," has serenaded astronauts as wakeup music four times in the shuttle program's 30-year history, according to NASA officials.

Today, the shuttle astronauts will be busy with a full day of unpacking aboard the International Space Station. Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

4:29 a.m. EDT – Atlantis/ISS transfers resume

12:54 p.m. EDT – Live interviews with WBNG-TV, Binghamton, NY / WICZ-TV, Binghamton, NY / KGO-TV, San Francisco, CA

1:14 p.m. EDT – Crew downlink of "Face in Space" tribute

4:59 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

5:00 p.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

5:29 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Enter Airlock to End Spacewalk
12 July 2011, 03:55 PM EDT

HOUSTON – Ron Garan and Mike Fossum have re-entered the station's Quest airlock and closed the hatch behind them. The airlock is now being re-pressurized, signifying the official end of today's spacewalk. Today's outing, which was the 160th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, lasted a total of six hours and 31 minutes.
    
"You guys did an outstanding job today," said STS-135 mission specialist Rex Walheim, who walked Fossum and Garan through the steps of today's spacewalk from the shuttle Atlantis' flight deck.
    
    --Denise Chow

Astronauts Moving Onto Final Tasks of Spacewalk
12 July 2011, 02:30 PM EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalker Mike Fossum fixed a protruding cable on a grapple fixture on the outside of the Russian Zarya module. Meanwhile, Ron Garan finished up the installation of the MISSE materials science experiment and snapped photographs of the finished product.
    
Next, the spacewalkers will place a protective cover over a docking unit on the port side of the station's Tranquility node. Depending on how quickly they move through this task, the spacewalkers will either head back to the station's Quest airlock to end the spacewalk, or try to accomplish some "get-ahead tasks" if there is extra time.
    
--Denise Chow

 

Astronauts Moving Onto Final Tasks of Spacewalk
12 July 2011, 02:30 PM EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalker Mike Fossum fixed a protruding cable on a grapple fixture on the outside of the Russian Zarya module. Meanwhile, Ron Garan finished up the installation of the MISSE materials science experiment and snapped photographs of the finished product.
    
Next, the spacewalkers will place a protective cover over a docking unit on the port side of the station's Tranquility node. Depending on how quickly they move through this task, the spacewalkers will either head back to the station's Quest airlock to end the spacewalk, or try to accomplish some "get-ahead tasks" if there is extra time.
    
--Denise Chow

 

Spacewalkers Prepare Science Experiment
12 July 2011, 01:51 PM EDT

HOUSTON – Nearly four hours into today's spacewalk, the astronauts will now deploy a materials science experiment on the space station's starboard truss. The experiment will be housed on a platform close to where the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a highly sophisticated particle physics detector, was recently installed during the shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission.

The experiment, known as MISSE, will be left out for several months and will test how different materials react to the harsh environment of space. The experiment panels will be retrieved and returned to Earth next year on a later mission. The results of the experiment have implications for future satellite and spacecraft designs, as well as materials science applications here on Earth.
    
 --Denise Chow

Spacewalkers Install of Satellite Refueling Experiment
12 July 2011, 01:14 PM EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan have successfully completed the second major task of the day: the installation of the Robotic Refueling Mission experiment.
    
Fossum, riding on the end of the space station's robotic arm, carried the experiment from Atlantis' payload bay to a platform near the station's Dextre robot. The Robotic Refueling Mission will be used to test technologies that could one day be used for a robotic gas station for satellites in orbit.
    
--Denise Chow

Astronauts Prepare Satellite Refueling Experiment
12 July 2011, 12:01 PM EDT

HOUSTON – After installing the faulty pump module inside Atlantis' payload bay, spacewalker Ron Garan removed himself from the end of the space station's robotic arm to help Mike Fossum release the Robotic Refueling Mission experiment from the shuttle's cargo carrier.
    
"It was fun to ride you around the space station," shuttle pilot Doug Hurley, who is at the controls of the station's robotic arm, radioed from inside the station's Cupola work station.
    
The spacewalkers will switch positions, with Fossum getting on the end of the arm to carry the Robotic Refueling Mission to a platform on the exterior of the station by the Dextre robot. The experiment will be used to test technologies that could one day be used as a robotic gas station for satellites in orbit.
    
--Denise Chow

 

Spacewalkers Install Pump Module Inside Shuttle Cargo Bay
12 July 2011, 11:37 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum have successfully installed a broken pump module into the shuttle Atlantis' payload bay. The spacewalkers bolted the refrigerator-size component into the back end of the orbiter's cargo carrier.
    
The pump module will be brought back to Earth for analysis at the end of Atlantis' mission. The component failed last summer, bringing down half of the station's cooling system as a result. Three emergency spacewalks were required to swap out the faulty component with a spare that was already onboard the station.
    
--Denise Chow

Spacewalker Retrieve Faulty Pump Module
12 July 2011, 10:50 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalker Mike Fossum released the bolts that were holding down the failed pump module as Ron Garan held the large component steady while standing on the end of the space station's robotic arm.
    
Garan is now grasping the 800-pound pump module as shuttle pilot Doug Hurley carefully steers him around the other spare parts that are stored at this work site. As Hurley backs Garan and the pump module away from the storage platform, Fossum is assisting the delicate robotic maneuver by acting as an extra set of eyes.
    
Once the pump module is fully removed from its storage location, Garan will carefully rotate the component 180 degrees, which will place it in the proper orientation to be installed inside the shuttle Atlantis' payload bay.
    
    --Denise Chow

 

Spacewalker Retrieves Failed Cooling Pump Module
12 July 2011, 10:41 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Spacewalker Ron Garan rode on the end of the space station's robotic arm to retrieve a broken cooling pump module from its temporary storage location along the station's Quest airlock. Shuttle pilot Doug Hurley maneuvered the robotic arm from inside the station's Cupola work station.
    
Garan is now working on unfastening the bolts that are holding down the refrigerator-size pump module. Once that is complete, he will grab hold of the pump and ride the robotic arm over to the space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay.
    
    --Denise Chow

Spacewalkers Set Up Work Stations, Prepare for First Major Task
12 July 2011, 09:48 AM EDT

HOUSTON – After floating outside the station's hatch, spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan got straight to work setting up for the day's first major task: retrieving a failed cooling pump module and moving it into the space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay.

"You ready to rock and roll?" Fossum asked his spacewalking partner prior to climbing out of the station's Quest airlock.

"Ready to rock and roll," Garan said.

Once on the exterior of the station, Fossum helped Garan adjust the door of his spacesuit's safety jetpack, which was not properly closed. Fossum, who is today's lead spacewalker, will now set up tools at a work site near the pump module, and Garan will begin installing a foot restraint on the end of the space station's robotic arm.

--Denise Chow

Station Astronauts Begin Today's Spacewalk
12 July 2011, 09:26 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Space station astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan switched their spacesuits onto internal battery power at 9:22 a.m. EDT (1322 GMT), marking the beginning of today's spacewalk.

The astronauts got started slightly behind schedule to finish all the final preparations for the outing. Today's spacewalk is expected to last about 6 1/2 hours.

The hatch of the station's Quest airlock was opened at 9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT).

--Denise Chow

Spacewalkers Suited Up
12 July 2011, 08:14 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Space station astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan have donned their bulky white spacesuits in preparation for today's spacewalk.

Shortly after waking up this morning, the two astronauts donned oxygen masks prior to being helped into their suits as part of a procedure known as the In-Suit Light Exercise (ISLE) method. Once Fossum and Garan are inside their spacesuits, they will continue to breathe in pure oxygen while doing some light calisthenics, such as lifting their arms and legs and bending their knees.

The light exercise raises the spacewalkers' metabolisms and helps them purge nitrogen from their bloodstream, which reduces their chances of getting decompression sickness, or what is known commonly as "the bends," once they exit into the vacuum of space.

The ISLE protocol is a new procedure that replaces the traditional overnight campout in the station's Quest airlock to help spacewalkers' bodies adjust. The procedure was first tested by astronauts on one of four spacewalks during Endeavour's STS-134 mission.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Astronauts Wake Up on Spacewalk Day
12 July 2011, 06:54 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Atlantis' four astronauts were woken up this morning at 2:59 a.m. EDT (0659 GMT) by the song "More" by Matthew West, which was selected for mission specialist Rex Walheim.

Walheim thanked his wife and two sons for the wakeup song saying, "I hope you're having a great day and I miss them and look forward to seeing them."

The astronauts are gearing up for a busy day supporting the 6 1/2-hour spacewalk that will be performed by station residents Ron Garan and Mike Fossum.

Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

4:14 a.m. EDT – Spacewalk ISLE method preparations resume

5:24 a.m. EDT – Raffaello cargo module transfers begin

6:34 a.m. EDT – Spacewalk ISLE prebreathe begins

8:44 a.m. EDT – Spacewalk begins (Fossum and Garan)

9:44 a.m. EDT – Failed pump module retrieval

10:14 a.m. EDT – Failed pump module transfer to Atlantis' payload bay

11:14 a.m. EDT – Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) removal from Atlantis' payload bay

11:34 a.m. EDT – RRM transfer to temporary platform near Dextre robot

12:24 p.m. EDT – MISSE experiment installation

1:09 p.m.  EDT – Troubleshooting of grapple fixture on Russian Zarya module

1:44 p.m. EDT – Docking unit cover installation on Tranquility node

3:14 p.m. EDT – Spacewalk ends

4:30 p.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

5:59 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

6:29 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

--Denise Chow

NASA Extends Atlantis' Mission One Extra Day
11 July 2011, 07:23 PM EDT

HOUSTON – NASA decided to extend the space shuttle Atlantis' final mission by one extra day to give the four-astronaut crew more time to unpack all the cargo they brought with them to the International Space Station.

Mission managers opted to add a bonus day to NASA's last ever shuttle flight after confirming that there are enough consumable resources onboard Atlantis that run the fuel cells that power the orbiter's systems.

The addition of an extra day means that Atlantis will now aim to land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. at 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT) on July 21.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Astronauts Enter Cargo Module
11 July 2011, 12:25 PM EDT

HOUSTON – After speeding through this morning's work, the space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts were able to enter the newly installed Raffaello cargo module ahead of schedule.

Shuttle commander Chris Ferguson and mission specialist Sandy Magnus opened up the door to the Raffaello module and floated inside shortly after noon EDT (1700 GMT). 

The astronauts wore masks and protective eyewear to shield against any dust or debris from the ground that may be floating around inside the pod. This is standard protocol whenever a new module is opened up on the space station, according to NASA officials.

Once inside the Raffaello for a few minutes, Ferguson and Magnus were able to remove the protective wear. The astronauts will now begin the laborious task of unpacking the 9,400 pounds (4,300 kilograms) of cargo inside the module. This work will continue for the rest of the week.

The remainder of the day will be spent making final preparations for tomorrow's spacewalk, which will be conducted by station astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum.

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Preparing to Enter Newly Installed Cargo Pod
11 July 2011, 11:52 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Members of both the shuttle and station crews are working together to complete the installation of the Raffaello cargo pod that was attached to the space station's Harmony node this morning.

The astronauts are performing leak checks between the compartments and pressurizing the module in preparation to enter the pod at around 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT). The crewmembers are working through the day's tasks at an efficient pace, getting as much as an hour ahead of the timeline at one point, said space station flight director Jerry Jason.

Once the astronauts are able to enter the Raffaello module, they will begin unpacking some of the cargo inside, a task that will be ongoing throughout the week ahead.

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Install Cargo Pod Onto Space Station
11 July 2011, 09:28 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Atlantis' STS-135 astronauts successfully removed a giant cargo pod, known as the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module or Raffaello module, from the shuttle's payload bay and installed it onto the exterior of the International Space Station.

Using the space station's robotic arm, the bus-size pod was installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node in the station's U.S. segment. Extensive leak checks will now be performed before shuttle commander Chris Ferguson and mission specialist Sandy Magnus float into the Raffaello module at around 1:39 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT).

The astronauts will spend the next week unpacking the 9,500 pounds (4,300 kilograms) of food, supplies and spare parts before refilling it with trash and other items to be brought back to Earth at the end of Atlantis' mission.

--Denise Chow
 

Shuttle Astronauts Wake up for Busy Day on Orbit
11 July 2011, 05:57 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis' crew was awakened today at 3:02 a.m. EDT (0702 GMT) to the song "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba, which was played for mission specialist Sandy Magnus. [Watch the Last Shuttle Mission LIVE]

"That was great," Magnus radioed to mission control. "It was a nice song for a nice, busy day. Good morning, everybody!"

Today the astronauts will move the Rafaello Multi-Purpose-Logistics Module (MPLM), a giant cargo pod, out of Atlantis' payload bay. The module will be temporarily attached to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony node, where it will remain for the remainder of Atlantis' visit at the station.

Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all time subject to change):

5:09 a.m. EDT – Space station robotic arm grapples MPLM

5:39 a.m. EDT – Space station robotic arm unberths MPLM from Atlantis

6:19 a.m. EDT – Atlantis / ISS transfers begin

6:59 a.m. EDT – Space station robotic arm installs MPLM onto Harmony

9:30 a.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

11:24 a.m. EDT – MPLM activation begins

1:39 p.m. EDT – MPLM ingress

2:59 p.m. EDT – Spacewalk procedure review

4:00 p.m. EDT – Mission Management Team briefing

6:29 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

6:59 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

--Denise Chow

 

NASA Assessing Space Junk Threat to Shuttle, Station
10 July 2011, 06:14 PM EDT

HOUSTON – NASA is examining a piece of potentially threatening space junk to determine if it will fly dangerously close to the International Space Station and the now-docked shuttle Atlantis.

Mission managers were notified of the orbital debris, which came from a spent Russian satellite, this morning, and are continuing to observe the object to determine whether they need to take any action to avoid a collision.

Leroy Cain, chair of Atlantis' mission management team, told reporters in a news briefing today that flight controllers will likely have a better understanding of the object and any necessary actions later this evening or tomorrow morning.

Read more about the potential space junk threat here.

--Denise Chow

Hatches Open Between Atlantis and Space Station
10 July 2011, 01:11 PM EDT

HOUSTON – After extensive leak checks were performed by both the shuttle and station crews, the hatches between Atlantis and the International Space Station were opened ahead of schedule at 12:47 p.m. EDT (1647 GMT). Watch the Last Shuttle Mission LIVE

The arrival of shuttle commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim brings the station's population to 10 people for the duration of Atlantis' visit.

The shuttle astronauts join Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov, NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.

Ferguson was first to float through the hatch, followed by Hurley, Walheim and then Magnus. The astronauts were greeted with big hugs and words of welcome by the station residents.

The shuttle astronauts were given a safety briefing led by space station commander Andrey Borisenko. They will now take some time to tour the complex before beginning some initial cargo transfers and preparations for tomorrow's busy day of work.

--Denise Chow

DOCKING! Atlantis Arrives at the International Space Station
10 July 2011, 11:09 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis successfully docked at the International Space Station at 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT), as both spacecraft sailed over the Pacific Ocean, east of New Zealand. Watch it LIVE on NASA TV.

The shuttle's approach and docking operations went off without a hitch, and Atlantis' commander Chris Ferguson skillfully parked the vehicle at the orbiting outpost's Harmony module.

Crewmembers aboard the shuttle and the space station will now spend approximately two hours checking the seals between the two spacecraft to ensure there are no leaks. Once that is complete, the hatches between Atlantis and the station will be opened at around 1:19 p.m. EDT (1719 GMT).

--Denise Chow

Atlantis is "Go" for Space Station Docking
10 July 2011, 10:38 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis and its four astronauts were given the green light by flight directors in mission control to proceed with operations to dock to the International Space Station. Watch it LIVE on NASA TV.

"The teams have been polled, you are go for docking," spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) Steve Robinson radioed to Atlantis from mission control.

Commander Chris Ferguson will now manually back the shuttle to its final destination, where it will park at the Harmony module in the station's U.S. segment. Atlantis is expected to link up with the space station at 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT).

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Performs Backflip On Approach to Space Station
10 July 2011, 10:07 AM EDT

HOUSTON – Before the astronauts park Atlantis at the International Space Station, shuttle commander Chris Ferguson maneuvered the vehicle through a slow backflip, called the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver.

This nine-minute rotational flip, which began at 10:05 a.m. EDT, gives astronauts onboard the station the opportunity to capture detailed images of the orbiter's underbelly to further inspect Atlantis for any signs of damage from launch and ascent. Watch it LIVE on NASA TV.

During the backflip, station residents Sergei Volkov, Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa are positioned at windows in the Russian Zvezda service module to snap the photos, which will be downlinked immediately to ground teams in mission control for analysis.

Once Atlantis completes the backflip, commander Ferguson will manually fly the shuttle from its position 600 feet below the space station to the docking port on the station's Harmony module.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Atlantis Closing in on Space Station
10 July 2011, 09:52 AM EDT

HOUSTON – The space shuttle Atlantis and its four astronauts are nearing the International Space Station as they prepare to arrive at the massive orbiting complex. Atlantis is scheduled to park at the space station at 11:07 a.m. EDT.

"We have you in sight," space station astronaut Ron Garan radioed to Atlantis' crew.

"Excellent, we'll be there soon," said mission specialist Sandra Magnus.

"We're waiting," Garan responded.

As the orbiter approaches the station, it will pause at a distance of about 600 feet below the outpost to perform a slow backflip to allow astronauts onboard the ISS to take close-up photographs of the shuttle's underbelly. Watch it LIVE on NASA TV.

This maneuver, called the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (RPM) is one of several inspections that occurs to check the orbiter for any damage.

--Denise Chow

Atlantis' Engines Fire on Final Approach to Space Station
10 July 2011, 08:33 AM EDT

HOUSTON – To help place Atlantis on its final path to the International Space Station, the astronauts onboard burned the orbital maneuvering system engines in what is known as the Terminal Initiation (TI) burn.

The TI burn occurred at 8:29 a.m. EDT, and lasted for about 12 seconds. This maneuver will place Atlantis on its final approach to the space station. Atlantis is scheduled to dock at the outpost for the final time at 11:07 a.m. EDT. Watch it LIVE on NASA TV.

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Astronauts Wake Up on Docking Day
10 July 2011, 06:22 AM EDT

Atlantis' four astronauts woke up today at 3:29 a.m. EDT (0729 GMT) to the song "Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra. The song was chosen and played for Atlantis' commander, Chris Ferguson.

The astronauts will now begin final preparations for their arrival at the International Space Station. Atlantis is expected to dock at the station at 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT). Here's a look at today's schedule in space (all times subject to change):

5:34 a.m. EDT – Rendezvous operations begin

8:29 a.m. EDT – Terminal Initiation (TI) burn

10:06 a.m. EDT – Rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM) / space station crew video documentation begins

11:07 a.m. EDT – Docking with ISS

1:19 p.m. EDT – Hatch opening and welcome ceremony

1:30 p.m. EDT – Mission Status Briefing

4:00 p.m. EDT – Mission Management Team briefing

6:29 p.m. EDT – ISS crew sleep begins

6:59 p.m. EDT – Atlantis crew sleep begins

--Denise Chow

Shuttle Astronauts Complete Orbiter Inspections
09 July 2011, 05:59 PM EDT

HOUSTON – The shuttle Atlantis' four astronauts successfully wrapped up a thorough inspection of the orbiter's heat shield during their first full day in space.

Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim scanned Atlantis' wings and nose using a sensor-tipped inspection pole. The data from the inspection is now being relayed down to ground teams here at Johnson Space Center. Engineers will examine the images and look for any damage the vehicle may have incurred during launch and ascent.

"We don't have any anomalies – no significant issues," said Leroy Cain, chair of the shuttle's mission management team. "The vehicle is extremely clean. We're very happy to be at this point and looking forward to docking tomorrow."

The four STS-135 astronauts will round our their day with preparations for tomorrow's docking with the International Space Station.

The orbiter is scheduled to link up to the orbiting outpost at 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT) on Sunday (July 10). The astronauts are expected to begin their sleep period tonight at 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT).

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Begin Shuttle Heat Shield Inspection
09 July 2011, 08:30 AM EDT

The four astronauts flying on Atlantis have begun their major activity for the day, a six-hour scan of their orbiter's heat shield to look for dings or damaged incurred during launch.

The inspection is a normal precaution taken on shuttle missions now to ensure the sensitive tiles on the orbiter's underbelly and wings are intact and safe for re-entry to Earth.

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis' Astronauts End First Day in Space
08 July 2011, 08:00 PM EDT

Shuttle commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim have wrapped up their first day in space.

The four STS-135 astronauts began their sleep period at 7:56 p.m. EDT tonight. The crewmembers are scheduled to wake up at 3:56 a.m. EDT to begin a jam-packed day of inspections. The spaceflyers will conduct a thorough check of Atlantis'  heat shield to determine if the orbiter suffered any damage during its launch.

The astronauts will also continue with preparations to rendezvous and dock to the International Space Station. Atlantis is scheduled to link up with the space station at 11:06 a.m. EDT on Sunday (July 10).

--Denise Chow

Astronauts Settle Into Space for Last Shuttle Flight
08 July 2011, 12:15 PM EDT

Atlantis' four astronauts are now settling into life in orbit, after discarding the vehicle's twin solid rocket boosters and large external fuel tank.

The crewmates will wind down in preparation for a busy day tomorrow that includes a meticulous scan of the shuttle's heat shield.

--Denise Chow

Atlantis Astronauts Discard Shuttle Fuel Tank
08 July 2011, 11:37 AM EDT

The STS-135 astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis have discarded the 15-story external tank that fed the orbiter’s nearly nine-minute launch into space.

With the tank jettisoned, Atlantis is now in orbit. A flash camera will photograph the tank’s departure to record any foam insulation loss. Analysts at Mission Control in Houston’s Johnson Space Center will search for any signs of foam loss during launch, and its potential as a debris hazard to Atlantis’ heat shield.

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis' Engines Shut Down as Planned
08 July 2011, 11:37 AM EDT

The five engines boosting Atlantis and its external tank towards orbit have shut down as planned about eight and a half minutes into flight. Watch the action LIVE on NASA TV.

The milestone is known as Main Engine Cut Off (MECO). The spacecraft is flying toward its intended orbit, with the next major task aimed at discarding the shuttle’s external tank.

--Clara Moskowitz

Solid Rocket Boosters Separate
08 July 2011, 11:29 AM EDT

The twin solid rocket boosters assisting Atlantis’s launch into space have separated as planned from the shuttle’s external tank. The reusable boosters separated about two minutes and five seconds after liftoff and fell back toward the Atlantic Ocean, where they will land under parachutes and be retrieved by recovery ships. They are equipped with cameras to record the performance of Atlantis’s external tank and any foam loss seen during today’s ascent.

--Clara Moskowitz

LIFTOFF! Shuttle Atlantis Launches on Final Mission
08 July 2011, 11:26 AM EDT

The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off one last time on the final launch of the 30-year space shuttle program.

The shuttle beat dismal weather forecasts to launch on time at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT).

"Good luck to you and your crew on the final flight of this true American icon. Good luck, god speed and have a little fun up there," shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach told the crew just before launch.

"Thanks to you and your team Mike," commander Chris Ferguson replied. "We're completing a chapter of a journey that will never end. The crew of Atlantis is ready to launch."

Shuttle Atlantis 'Go for Launch'
08 July 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Shuttle Atlantis has been cleared for launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on the 135th and final space shuttle mission. Clouds and rain showers cleared just in time to permit a launch attempt.

The countdown has just picked up following the planned T-9 minute hold as final launch preparations are rushed to completion.

Atlantis' preferred launch time is targeted for 11:26 AM EDT (1526 GMT) – the midpoint of a 10-minute launch window. At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be orbiting 235 miles above the South Pacific Ocean.

The mission management team has been polled and all have reported 'Go for launch.' The four veteran STS-135 astronauts, led by mission commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley, are strapped into their seats, running through their pre-launch checklists and are closely monitoring spacecraft systems for their ascent to orbit.

No technical or vehicle issues are being worked at this time, with very little chatter on the internal communication loops.

Over the next nine minutes, the Orbiter's access arm will be retracted, the hydraulic power system (APU) started, the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks pressurized, Atlantis's internal flight computers will take control of the countdown and a booster steering test will be conducted. The three space shuttle main engines will ignite at T-minus 6.6 seconds and the twin solid rockets boosters will light at T-minus zero resulting in liftoff.

All spacecraft systems are reported 'Go'. 9 minutes to launch.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA is broadcasting the STS-135 mission live on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left on this page.

Weather Outlook Improves for Atlantis Launch
08 July 2011, 11:03 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Breaks in the clouds ceiling over Florida's Kennedy Space Center has the launch team "cautiously optimistic" according to NASA commentator George Diller. At the moment, weather conditions are currently marginal for the launch of Atlantis on the final space shuttle mission at 11:26 AM EDT (1526 GMT) and weather officers are closely monitoring a small rain shower to the northeast of the launch site.

As the countdown enters its final 25 minutes, all is in readiness – weather permitting - for Atlantis' final launch from pad 39-A. The shuttle's hatch has been closed and latched for flight, the four STS-135 astronauts are strapped into their seats, reviewing their pre-launch checklists and closely monitoring their spacecraft systems in preparation for their ascent to orbit.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA will broadcast Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. You are invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed, which is available by clicking here or using the button at the upper left on this page.

Atlantis Ready for Launch, Weather Permitting
08 July 2011, 10:42 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The space shuttle's hatch has been closed and latched for flight, the four STS-135 astronauts are strapped into their seats and final preparations are under way for Atlantis' final liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center … if cloudy skies and rain showers clear in time,

Atlantis' preferred launch time is scheduled for 11:26:46 AM EDT (1526:46 GMT) – the midpoint of a 10-minute launch window.

Weather conditions along Florida's Space Coast are not promising for launch - primary concerns continue to be showers and thunderstorms within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility, flight through precipitation, and cumulus clouds.

The space center's VIP viewing site is also filled with many luminaries, including Florida Governor Rick Scott, 14 members of Congress, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other notables include musical great Jimmy Buffet and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The astronauts are running through their pre-launch checklists and are closely monitoring their spacecraft systems in preparation for their ascent to orbit. The close-out crew is breaking down the 'White Room' access platform surrounding the Orbiter's hatch and will soon depart the launch pad.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA will broadcast Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. You are invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed, which is available by clicking here or using the button at the upper left on this page.

Launch Countdown Holding at T-9 Minutes
08 July 2011, 10:36 AM EDT

The countdown toward launch of space shuttle Atlantis has entered a planned hold at T-9 minutes.

No issues are being worked at this time, and NASA is still eyeing the iffy weather, which is currently favorable for launch, but could sour at any minute.

--Clara Moskowitz

Atlantis' Hatch Closed for Launch
08 July 2011, 09:25 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Shuttle Atlantis' hatch has been closed and latched for flight, the four astronauts are strapped into their seats and final preparations are progressing smoothly for today's launch attempt from pad 39-A at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Weather conditions remain gloomy although fleeting patches of blue sky have appeared west of the launch site.

Atlantis' late morning launch is scheduled for 11:26:46 AM EDT (1526:46 GMT) – the midpoint of a 10-minute launch window. A final adjustment may be made at the T-9 minute hold to more precisely align with the orbit of the International Space Station.

The veteran STS-135 crew - led by commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley – just completed the final series of air-to-ground communications checks to ensure that the astronauts can talk to flight controllers and each other during the spacecraft's ascent to orbit.

The launch team is not working any technical issues at this time; however, the official weather forecast remains a pessimistic 30% chance of acceptable conditions for launch – primary concerns are showers and thunderstorms within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility, flight through precipitation, and cumulus clouds.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA is broadcasting Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. Click here for SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left on this page.

Atlantis Astronauts Strapped-in for Launch
08 July 2011, 08:42 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The four STS-135 astronauts are now securely strapped into their seats onboard shuttle Atlantis and beginning final preparations for today's launch attempt from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39-A. Weather conditions remain a major concern with just a 30% probability of acceptable conditions forecast at launch time.

Atlantis' late-morning launch is scheduled for 11:26:46 AM. EDT (1526:46 GMT) – the midpoint of a 10-minute launch window.

The final space shuttle crew are all spaceflight veterans - commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus. The astronauts are now engaged in a series of communications checks between the spacecraft, the launch team and Mission Control in Houston.

At this time, shuttle Atlantis is fully fueled for launch and the vehicle is in "stable replenish" mode, with propellants being topped-off until launch time. No technical issues are currently being worked.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA is broadcasting Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. Click here for SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left on this page.

Atlantis Commander Enters Spacecraft
08 July 2011, 08:10 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA mission commander Chris Ferguson has climbed onboard shuttle Atlantis for its late morning launch attempt, scheduled for 11:26:46 a.m. EDT (1526:46 GMT). STS-135 will be Ferguson's third spaceflight.

No technical issues are currently being worked; however, weather conditions are not promising, although patches of blue sky are visible to the west of the launch pad. The official weather forecast is pegged at a pessimistic 30 percent probability of acceptable conditions for launch; weather conditions at both Trans-Oceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites in Spain are both observed and forecast 'Green' or 'Go'.

At this time, shuttle Atlantis is fully fueled for launch and the vehicle is in "stable replenish" mode, with propellants being topped-off until launch time. This morning, technicians loaded Atlantis's 15-story external fuel tank with the super-chilled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed its three main engines during the 8.5-minute ascent into space. Fueling operations ended at 4:48 AM EDT with about 535,000 gallons of cryogenic propellant loaded into the fuel tank.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA will broadcast Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. You are invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com’s NASA TV feed, which is available by clicking hereor using the button at the upper left on this page.

Atlantis Astronauts Depart for Launch Pad
08 July 2011, 07:57 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The crew of space shuttle Atlantis, clad in their bright orange launch-and-entry pressure suits, has departed the Operations & Checkout (O&C) Building at the Kennedy Space Center. The four astronauts, riding in their silver 'Astro Van', are now en route to seaside pad 39A where the shuttle is poised for its final launch, framed against a gray sky with a few streaks of blue.

After a 25-minute ride to the launch pad, the final space shuttle crew, all spaceflight veterans, will enter Atlantis one by one, beginning with mission commander Chris Ferguson, to prepare for this morning's launch attempt.

Atlantis' launch is scheduled for 11:26:46 AM EDT (1526:46 GMT). The launch team is not working any technical issues and the countdown so far has been smooth and uneventful; however, weather conditions are not favorable.

The official weather forecast remains a pessimistic 30% chance of acceptable conditions for launch. Primary concerns are showers and thunderstorms within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility, flight through precipitation, and cumulus clouds.

-- Roger Guillemette

NASA will broadcast Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. You are invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com's NASA TV feed, which is available by clicking here or using the button at the upper left on this page.

Atlantis Astronauts Suiting Up for Launch
08 July 2011, 07:13 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The four-astronaut crew of the space shuttle Atlantis' final mission has begun suiting up for launch. Watch it live on NASA TV.

The weather forecast has not changed, and there's still just a 30 percent chance that today's liftoff will take place. A final decision to launch or scrub should be made by around 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT), NASA officials say.

— Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

Shuttle Atlantis Launch Coverage Begins on NASA TV
08 July 2011, 06:38 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has begun carrying live coverage of the lead-up to the launch of space shuttle Atlantis. Coverage began at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT); launch is slated for 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT). Watch it live on NASA TV.

However, there's only a 30 percent chance that today's blastoff — the last ever for NASA's shuttle program — will take place. Bad weather is lingering over the launch pad and could scuttle today's attempt.

— Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

Fueling of Shuttle's External Tank Complete
08 July 2011, 05:49 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has finished fueling the shuttle Atlantis' massive external tank, pumping in about 535,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant.

The operation began on schedule today at 2:01 a.m. EDT (0601 GMT) and finished about three minutes early, at 4:58 a.m. EDT. The odds of today's launch attempt being scrubbed by bad weather remain at 70 percent.

The chances of good weather for a launch attempt on Saturday have been upgraded from 40 percent to 60 percent, officials said.

— Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

NASA Begins Fueling Shuttle Atlantis for Final Launch
08 July 2011, 02:10 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has started loading liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant into the shuttle Atlantis' massive external tank. The process should take about three hours.

The space agency is going ahead with preparations for Atlantis' scheduled 11:26 a.m. EDT launch today despite an iffy weather outlook. Current forecasts peg the chance of a weather-related scrub at 70 percent.
— Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

Weather Outlook Worsens for Friday Launch
06 July 2011, 09:01 AM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The chances of Atlantis launching on Friday are getting a bit dimmer as the weather outlook worsens. Rain and thunderstorms are predicted to move into the area later this week, and the latest forecasts peg the chances of the shuttle blasting off Friday at just 30 percent. Those chances improve to 40 percent on Saturday and 60 percent on Sunday.

--Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

Launch Week Begins for Last Shuttle Flight
05 July 2011, 09:57 AM EDT

It's launch week for NASA's shuttle Atlantis, and the shuttle's four-astronaut crew is gearing up.

NASA officials will hold a countdown status briefing at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) today to discuss preparations for the Friday launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. The weather will be discussed; current forecasts call for a chance of rain on launch day. The countdown officially begins at 1:30 p.m EDT (1730 GMT).
 

Earlier today, STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley practiced landings today in the Shuttle Training Aircraft, starting at about 5:00 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT). Then, beginning around 7:15 a.m. (1115 GMT), Ferguson, Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim checked their launch and entry suits and reviewed their flight data files.

--Mike Wall (@michaeldwall)

NASA Clears Shuttle Atlantis for July 8 Launch
28 June 2011, 05:42 PM EDT

NASA's last space shuttle launch in history is set to blast off from Florida on July 8.

Senior agency officials made the decision today (June 28) after an extensive review of the space shuttle Atlantis, which will fly the upcoming mission to the International Space Station, as well as the shuttle's four-astronaut crew and ground teams.

Atlantis is slated to liftoff from its seaside Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 8 at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT).

-- Denise Chow (@denisechow)


Atlantis' Astronauts Practice Launch Day Activities
23 June 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

The astronauts who will fly Atlantis on the final flight of NASA's space shuttle program will spend today completing a dress rehearsal of launch day activities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus will run through the final countdown and practice procedures in preparation for their liftoff.

Atlantis is currently scheduled to launch on July 8.

-- Denise Chow (@denisechow)


Atlantis' Astronauts Eager for Launch
22 June 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

The four STS-135 astronauts spoke to reporters today, standing by their space shuttle Atlantis on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus spoke about their excitement for the upcoming mission and how they plan to savor every moment of the agency's final space shuttle flight.

Click here to read more about what the crew said.

-- Denise Chow (@denisechow)


Final Shuttle Crew Arrives in Florida for Launch Dress Rehearsal
20 June 2011, 06:00 PM EDT

The four astronauts who will fly Atlantis on the last flight of NASA's space shuttle program arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida today for a series of media events, emergency training and a final launch day dress rehearsal.

Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus touched down at the Florida spaceport at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) in a pair of the agency's T-38 supersonic jets.

Over the next three days, the astronauts will participate in a variety of training exercises, including a complete runthrough of launch day activities leading up to the shuttle's liftoff. The three-day event is known in NASA parlance as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT.

Read more about the TCDT here.

-- Denise Chow (@denisechow)


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