Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Atlantis To Land Tomorrow

The crew of space shuttle Atlantis is spending today getting ready for their return home and the end of the STS-122 mission. As part of the preparations, the astronauts performed a test earlier today of the steering jets – or thrusters – that will be used to position the orbiter for re-entry. They did not test the four aft orbiter maneuvering system vernier thrusters. These share a common heater, which failed overnight, making them inoperative during the test. These four steering jets are not needed for deorbit or landing and will not have an impact on the remainder of the mission. The crew members also successfully tested the control surfaces to be used during Atlantis’ flight through the atmosphere. The STS-122 astronauts also are setting up the recumbent seat for Mission Specialist Daniel Tani, who joined the crew of Atlantis on the International Space Station. The recumbent seat is a special seat designed to reduce the stress of gravity on those who have spent long periods of time in the weightless environment of space. Tani served as Expedition 16 flight engineer for almost four months. He was replaced on the station crew by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Leopold Eyharts. STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss. The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., tomorrow. . -Source NASA

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