STS-125 Mission Updates: Part 3

STS-125 Mission Updates: Part 3
The shuttle Atlantis'STS-125 crew to Hubble are: (front row) commander Scott Altman (left), pilot Gregory C. Johnson and mission specialist Megan McArthur, mission specialist. (back row, from left to right) mission specialists Michael Good, Mike Massimino, John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel.
(Image: © NASA.)

Touchdown!Atlantis Lands Safely in California
24 May 2009 11:39 a.m. EDT

ShuttleAtlantis has safely landed at Edwards AFB, California, ending a 13-dayservicing mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope.

Atlantistouched down at 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT) at the back-up landing site inCalifornia's Mojave Desert, where weather conditions were perfect for the spaceplane's return.

Missioncommander Scott ‘Scooter’ Altman and pilot Gregory Johnson guidedthe 226,040-pound Orbiter on its fiery plunge through the atmosphere andhour-long free-fall descent back to Earth, then precisely executed a series ofturns and banking maneuvers that slowed the vehicle for its powerless landingon the 15,013 feet long, 300 feet wide Edwards runway 22 – thenortheast-to-southwest concrete runway.

Atlantiswas diverted to the West Coast alternate landing site when continuedinstability in the Florida weather – offshore thunderstorms encroachingwithin 30 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility - forced NASA towave-off both of today's possible landing opportunities at the Kennedy SpaceCenter.

Ledby Altman and Johnson, the STS-125 mission specialists were Megan McArthur (whoalso served as Atlantis' flight engineer), Michael Good, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, andAndrew Feustel.

STS-125is the 53rd space shuttle mission to land at the California landingsite. STS-125 also marked Atlantis' 30th mission and the 126thflight in shuttle program history.

TheOrbiter will now be ferried back to the Kennedy Space Center on the back of aspecially-modified 747 airliner, a procedure that takes about a week at a costof over $1 million.

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link atthe upper left of this page.

- Roger Guillemette

Atlantis on FinalApproach for Landing
24 May 2009 11:28 a.m. EDT

Space shuttleAtlantis is on final approach for a landing at Edwards AFB, California.Touchdown is scheduled for 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT) and weather conditions areideal for the spaceplane’s return to Earth.

All spacecraftsystems are functioning normally and the vehicle is being tracked by radar andinfrared cameras at the landing site.

Crossing theCalifornia coast near Santa Barbara on their approach to Edwards AFB, Atlantiscommander Scott 'Scooter' Altman, pilot Gregory Johnson and flight engineerMegan McArthur have completed a series of four banking maneuvers that slowedthe Orbiter’s velocity and dissipated heat from the vehicle’sprotective tiles.

The Orbiter will makea 200-degree left overhead turn in the skies above the Mojave Desert, followedby a long gliding approach to Edwards runway 22– the northeast-to-southwest concrete runway, 15,013 feet in length, 300feet wide.

NASA isbroadcasting Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope onNASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link atthe upper left of this page.

- Roger Guillemette

Atlantis Re-enteringEarth's Atmosphere  
24 May 2009 11:08 a.m. EDT

Shuttle Atlantis isnow transitioning from spacecraft to aircraft, encountering the upper fringes ofEarth's atmosphere - known as 'Entry Interface' - at about 399,000 feet abovethe South Pacific Ocean as it begins its fiery descent and a long, glidingapproach to its alternate landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

All spacecraftsystems are performing as expected. Touchdown on Edwards runway 22 – thenortheast-to-southwest runway – is scheduled for 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539GMT) and weather conditions in the Mojave Desert are described as"pristine" for the spaceplane'sapproach and landing this morning.

With the heat on itsThermal Protection System tiles building to 2,500 degrees F, Atlantis is headedon a northeasterly course over the Pacific Ocean toward the Southern Californiacoast, then descending over the high desert on its final approach for landing.STS-125 will mark the 53rd space shuttle mission to land atthe California facility.

STS-125 commanderScott 'Scooter' Altman and pilot Gregory Johnson completed a 2-minute,36-second firing of Atlantis's twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines,reducing the Orbiter's velocity sufficiently to drop it out of orbit and beginits hour-long free-fall descent back to Earth. Altman and Johnson will pilotthe 226,040-pound vehicle through a series of wide sweeping turns and bankingmaneuvers, known as 'roll reversals', to slow the vehicle and then perform a200-degree left overhead turn to properly align Atlantis with the runway forits powerless touchdown at Edwards AFB.

Veteran astronautChris Ferguson has been flying landing approaches to Edwards AFB in the ShuttleTraining Aircraft – a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulatesthe shuttle's handling characteristics – to evaluate the atmosphericconditions that Atlantis will encounter on its approach and landing.

Bands of offshore thunderstormsencroaching too close to the Orbiter's flight path forced NASA officials towave-off both of today’s possible landing opportunities at the KennedySpace Center. Flight controllers were previously forced to wave-off Floridalanding opportunities on both Friday and Saturday, also due to inclementconditions.

NASA isbroadcasting Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope onNASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASATV link at the upper left of this page.

- Roger Guillemette

Atlantis Heading Hometo California
24 May 2009 10:28 a.m. EDT

Space shuttleAtlantis has ignited its braking rockets to initiate a fiery plunge throughEarth's atmosphere and begin a long, gliding descent to its backup landing site- Edwards AFB, California.

Atlantis is scheduledto touch down at 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT) and weather conditions in the MojaveDesert are described as "pristine' for the spaceplane'sapproach and landing in the morning sunshine.

STS-125 missioncommander Scott 'Scooter' Altman and pilot Gregory Johnson just completed a twominute, 36 second firing of Atlantis' twin Orbital Maneuvering System enginesthat began at 10:24:41 p.m. EDT (1424:41 GMT), reducing the shuttle's velocityby about 307 miles/hour (267 feet/sec), sufficient to drop it out of orbit andbegin an hour-long free-fall descent back to Earth. At the time of the de-orbitburn, Atlantis was orbiting about 350 miles above the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Atlantis will crossthe California coast near Santa Barbara, just south of Vandenberg AFB, on itsapproach to the landing strip. Altman and Johnson will then precisely execute aseries of turns and banking maneuvers to bleed-off excess speed and slow theOrbiter for its powerless, gliding approach to Edwards< runway 22 – aconcrete runway 15,013 feet in length, 300 feet wide. STS-125 will mark the 53rdspace shuttle mission to land at the California facility.

Veteran astronautChris Ferguson has been flying landing approaches in the Shuttle TrainingAircraft – a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics – to evaluate the atmosphericconditions that Atlantis would encounter on its approach and landing at EdwardsAFB.

Bands of offshorethunderstorms encroaching too close to the Orbiter's flight path forced NASAofficials to wave-off both of today’s possible landing opportunities atthe Kennedy Space Center. Flight controllers were previously forced to wave-offFlorida landing opportunities on both Friday and Saturday, also due toinclement conditions.

NASA isbroadcasting Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope onNASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASATV link at the upper left of this page.

- Roger Guillemette

Atlantis to Land inCalifornia Today
24 May 2009 10:02 a.m. EDT

Space shuttle Atlantiswill land in California this morning after flight controllers determined thatweather conditions in Florida will remain too unstable to reasonably attempt alanding today.

Atlantis commanderScott 'Scooter' Altman and pilot Gregory Johnson are now slated to fire theshuttle’s twin Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines for the de-orbitburn at 10:24:41 a.m. EDT (1424:41 GMT), resulting in an 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539GMT) touchdown at the alternate landing site, Edwards Air Force Base in California'sMojave Desert.

Atlantis's twinOrbital Maneuvering System engines will be fired for 2 minutes and 36 seconds,high above the Pacific Ocean, to slow the Orbiter's velocity by about 267feet/sec, sufficient to begin its fiery descent through Earth's atmosphere anda long, gliding approach to Edwards runway 22 – a concrete runway 15,013feet in length, 300 feet wide. STS-125 will mark the 53rdspace shuttle mission to land at the California facility.

TheSTS-125 crew recently completed "fluid loading," a process where theastronauts drink quantities of fluids laced with salt and electrolytes torehydrate themselves in preparation for their return to Earth's gravity.

A near-perfectforecast at Edwards AFB – breezy with just a few scattered clouds –made for an easy decision for Entry Flight Director Norm Knight to direct theSTS-125 crew to begin preparations for a landing later this morning in the highdesert of California.

Bands of offshorethunderstorms encroaching too close to the Orbiter's flight path forced NASAofficials to wave-off both of today’s possible landing opportunities atthe Kennedy Space Center. Flight controllers were previously forced to wave-offFlorida landing opportunities on both Friday and Saturday, also due toinclement conditions.

Veteran astronautChris Ferguson has been flying landing approaches in the Shuttle TrainingAircraft – a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics – to evaluate the atmosphericconditions that Atlantis would encounter on its approach and landing to EdwardsAFB.

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left ofthis page.

- Roger Guillemette

Atlantis Aims forSecond Landing Opportunity
24 May 2009 8:30 a.m. EDT

Space shuttleAtlantis will not land at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on the first of itstwo possible landing opportunities today due tounacceptable weather conditions; however, flight controllers are keepinglanding options open on both coasts to bring Atlantis home later this morning.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

Entry Flight DirectorNorm Knight waved-off Atlantis' first landing opportunity at Florida's KennedySpace Center after meteorologists observed and forecast thunderstormsencroaching too near the Orbiter's projected flight path – a violation oflanding weather criteria.

Atlantis' crew,commanded by veteran astronaut Scott Altman, has been instructed to prepare forlanding at Edwards AFB in California, but flight controllers will closelymonitor the dynamic Florida weather conditions to see if they improvesufficiently for landing on the next orbit. Weather at Edwards AFB isnear-ideal for a landing attempt today.

There are two landingoptions available on orbit 197 - the first at Edwards Air Force Base at 11:39a.m. EDT (1539 GMT) and a second opportunity, just nine minutes later, at theKennedy Space Center at 11:48 a.m. EDT (1548 GMT). The de-orbit burn forlanding at Edwards would occur at approx. 10:24 a.m. EDT (1424 GMT); thede-orbit burn for a Florida landing would be about sixteen minutes later at10:40 a.m. EDT (1440 GMT).

NASA chief astronautSteve Lindsey has been flying landing approaches in the Shuttle TrainingAircraft – a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics – closely monitoring the winds andthickening cloud deck, evaluating the weather conditions that Atlantis wouldencounter on its approach and landing to the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA is broadcasting Atlantis’s STS-125 mission to theHubble Space Telescope on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASATV link at the upper left of this page.

-         Roger Guillemette

Weather‘Marginal’ for Florida Shuttle Landing
24 May 2009 8:19 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– There are blue skies over the Kennedy Space Center here for today’s Atlantis shuttle landingat 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409 GMT), but the weather is still “marginal”because of some developing rain showers within a 30-mile perimeter of thelanding strip.

Mission Control hasgiven the astronauts a tentative go to prepare to fire Atlantis’ enginesat 8:57 a.m. EDT (1257 GMT) to begin its descent through Earth’satmosphere.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

Astronauts‘Go’ to Start Fluid Loading for Landing
24 May 2009 8:00 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Mission Control has given the seven astronauts aboard shuttle Atlantis a go to begin aprocess called “fluid loading,” which calls for the spaceflyersto drink at least 32 ounces of liquid to prepare their bodies for the return togravity. They can choose from a chicken consommi ,orange and lemon-lime drinks, and salt tablets.

Mission Control told the astronauts they can pace themselves while drinking theextra fluids, as the weather over Florida may still thwart a 10:09 a.m. EDT(1409 GMT) landing. An 11:48 a.m. EDT (1548 GMT) touchdown in California isstill on the table.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

Astronauts to GetSeated for Landing
24 May 2009 7:50 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Astronauts aboard shuttle Atlantis should be climbing into their seatssoon, starting at about 7:57 a.m. EDT (1157 GMT) as they prepare fortoday’s first landing attempt at 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409GMT) here at the Kennedy Space Center.

Atlantis has a secondlanding opportunity today in California at 11:48 a.m. EDT (1548 GMT), and willland then if bad weather thwarts the first try in Florida. Developing rainshowers to the southeast of the shuttle’s landing strip here are the mainconcern. They’re within the 30-mile perimeter, violating NASA flightrules.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

NASA Recons Weatherfor Shuttle Landing
24 May 2009 7:19 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– NASA’s chief astronaut Steve Lindsay will begin his weather reconflights over the Shuttle Landing Facility here at the Kennedy Space Center forAtlantis’ planned landing at 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409 GMT).If the weather cooperates, Atlantis would fire its twin Orbital ManeuveringSystem engines at about 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT) to begin the descent back toEarth.

Rain is stillencroaching within the 30-mile (48-km) perimeter around the landing strip.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

Astronauts to Suit UpFor Shuttle Landing
24 May 2009 7:00 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Atlantis astronauts have been given the go-ahead to don their brightorange entry suits for today’s landing. They have closed thepayload bay doors on Atlantis, indicating entry flight director NormKnight’s hope to land here in Florida at 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409 GMT). Asecond attempt at the Edwards Air Force Base in California is available at11:48 a.m. EDT (1548 GMT).

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

Atlantis AstronautsPrepare for Landing
24 May 2009 6:00 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Astronauts aboard shuttle Atlantis are again preparing to land for the third day in a row.Touchdown is targeted for 10:11 a.m. EDT (1411 GMT) here at the Kennedy SpaceCenter, where weather conditions have improved slightly – although rainshowers are still expected. A second opportunity arises at 11:48 a.m. EDT (1548GMT), when Atlantis could land at a backup runway in California.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

UnstableWeather Scrubs Atlantis Landing Again
23 May 2009 8:40 a.m. EDT

Spaceshuttle Atlantis will remain in orbit for another day. Unstable weatherconditions – low clouds in excess of acceptable limits and precipitationnear the Orbiter’s projected flight path - forced NASA flight controllersto wave-off both of today’s possible landing opportunities at Florida'sKennedy Space Center.

EntryFlight Director Norm Knight made the 'wave-off' determination aftermeteorologists again forecast 'No-Go' conditions for today's second Floridalanding opportunity.

Weatherconditions in Florida are expected to improve for a landing opportunity onSunday, while the alternate landing site at Edwards AFB, California isforecasting ideal weather.

Atlantishas sufficient consumables to remain in orbit until Monday.

NASA isbroadcasting Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope onNASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

- Roger Guillemette

AtlantisAims for Second Landing Opportunity
23 May 2009 7:30 a.m. EDT

Spaceshuttle Atlantis will not land at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on the firstof its two possible landing opportunities today due to unacceptable weatherconditions; however, flight controllers are keeping landing options open onboth coasts to bring Atlantis home later this morning.

EntryFlight Director Norm Knight waved-off Atlantis' first landing opportunity atFlorida's Kennedy Space Center after meteorologists observed and forecast lowcloud ceilings and rain showers near the Orbiter's projected flight path– both violations of landing weather criteria..

Atlantis'crew, commanded by veteran astronaut Scott Altman, has been instructed to preparefor landing in California on the next orbit, but flight controllers willclosely monitor the dynamic Florida weather conditions to see if they improvesufficiently for landing. Weather at Edwards AFB is near-ideal for a landingattempt today.

There aretwo landing options available on orbit 181 - the first at California's EdwardsAir Force Base at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT) and a second opportunity, just nineminutes later, at Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 10:53 a.m. EDT (1453 GMT).The de-orbit burn for landing at Edwards AFB would occur at approx. 9:29 a.m.EDT (1329 GMT); the de-orbit burn for a Florida landing would be about fifteenminutes later at 9:44 a.m. EDT (1344 GMT).

NASAchief astronaut Steve Lindsey has been flying landing approaches in the ShuttleTraining Aircraft – a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulatesthe shuttle's handling characteristics – closely monitoring the winds andthickening cloud deck, evaluating the weather conditions that Atlantis wouldencounter on its approach and landing to the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA isbroadcasting Atlantis’s STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope onNASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

- Roger Guillemette

Weather PreventsFirst Shuttle Landing Attempt, Another ChanceAhead
23 May 2009 7:09 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Bad weather has again delayed the shuttle Atlantis’ landing today, withMission Control forgoing the first opportunity because of nearby thunderstorms.The next landing opportunity is at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT) in California, butNASA could press for a 10:54 a.m. EDT (1454 GMT) here at the Kennedy SpaceCenter.

“We’rekeeping our options open,” Mission Control told the crew. The astronautsare returning home after a 12-day mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

The weather is thebig issue here in Florida. It is spotty at best and just on the edge of beingacceptable for today’s planned landing. Atlantis has more landing chanceshere and at Edwards Air Force Base later today.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

NASA Eyes Weather forShuttle Landing
23 May 2009 6:45 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Atlantis astronauts should soon be climbing into their seats fortoday’s 9:16 a.m. EDT (1316 GMT) landing attempt here at the Kennedy SpaceCenter. Meanwhile, NASA’s chief astronaut Steve Lindsay is flying reconflights in a modified aircraft that mimics a shuttle during landing to take abetter look at weather conditions.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

The weather is thebig issue here in Florida. It is spotty at best and just on the edge of beingacceptable for today’s planned landing. Atlantis has more landing chanceshere and at Edwards Air Force Base later today.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

Shuttle AstronautsSuit Up for Landing
23 May 2009 6:12 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– Astronauts aboard shuttle Atlantis have begun donning their brightorange partial pressure suits for today’s planned 9:16 a.m. EDT (1316GMT) landing here at the Kennedy Space Center. Lightning can be seen in thedistance, but Mission Control reports that weather conditions are just on theborder of acceptability. The shuttle may also land today in California and hasenough supplies to stay in space through Monday.

Click here for a look at today’s landingplans.

-Tariq Malik

NASA is broadcastingAtlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA TV.Click herefor SPACE.com's NASA TVfeed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper leftof this page.

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