Atlantis has completed checks on her Reaction Control System (RCS), and Flight Control Surfaces (FCS) – one of the final requirements ahead approval for the orbiter and her crew of seven to return to Earth. The first de-orbit and landing opportunity is on Thursday.
Because of power consumption savings during STS-117’s docked phase with the International Space Station (ISS), Atlantis can have three days of landing attempts, should weather fail to cooperate.
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Opening checks of the day proceeded well, with no anomalies observed with the FCS checkout and the test of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which utilized APU-1 for the purpose of the checkout.
The RCS hot fire was next, which was concluded at around 11:20am EDT.
The crew are now packing up the orbiter’s flight deck and mid deck, ready for the first deorbit opportunity tomorrow at 12:50pm EDT.
Deputy Shuttle manager John Shannon and his team are currently meeting in a late Mission Management Team (MMT) to discuss one image from the late inspections, although that is expected to be cleared.
Update: At 8pm EDT the MMT ended with both issues – one related to a panel on the starboard wing, and the object seen after undocking – were cleared.
Atlantis has seven deorbit opportunities coming up – starting Thursday – with the the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) the primary landing site of choice.
**Ride home through the fire and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis on STS-115 – And now also with Discovery on STS-116 – TWO Stunning high quality 2hr, 355mb videos – from deorbit burn to post landing**
Should the weather wave off the opportunities of landing at KSC on Thursday, Edwards Air Force Base and finally White Sands in New Mexico become options up to Saturday. Sunday is the last day on which Atlantis will have to land at one of the sites.
Tuesday’s undocking and flyaround was from the ISS – which has successfully held attitude control since Atlantis’ departure, which was also filmed by Russian commander Fyodor Yurchikhin.
‘After final preparations on both sides of the hatches (closed last night at 6:51pm EDT), Atlantis undocked smoothly from PMA-2 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 2) at 10:42am, after a total docked time of 8d 19h 6m,’ noted On Orbit status report for last night.
‘For undocking, the station was turned 180 deg to +XVV ZLV (+x-axis in velocity vector, z-axis in local vertical) at 8:08am, put briefly on free drift for the undocking, and then remained in 13A Stage attitude of +XVV TEA attitude at 11:24am.
‘Atlantis backed away from PMA-2, then performed a 1.25-lap flyaround at 400-600 ft while obtaining stunning imagery of the (now no longer lopsided) station and being video-recorded itself by CDR Fyodor Yurchikhin with his camcorder.
‘A 1.5 ft/s separation burn followed at 11:57am on the +V bar (i.e., in front of the ISS) and a second at 12:25pm (1.0 ft/s, posigrade).’
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