Discovery Crew Practices Launch as Workers Prep Shuttle

The astronauts of space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission are practicing launch and ascent in the motion-based simulator at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston today. The simulator is an exact mock-up of the shuttle's flight deck and lets the crew rehearse the steps they will take at liftoff and during the climb into orbit. At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians are working on Discovery in Orbiter Processing Facility-3. They are to remove the shuttle's right-side orbital maneuvering system pod this week. The shuttle uses the two OMS pods in space and the engines also act as braking thrusters to slow the shuttle for entry and landing at the end of the mission.

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Atlantis, STS-132 Crew Return Home

Space shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts ended a journey of more than 4.8 million miles Wednesday with an 8:48 a.m. EDT touchdown at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flawless landing wrapped up a highly successful mission to deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, known as "Rassvet" ("dawn" in Russian), to the International Space Station.

"It was smooth as silk," STS-132 Commander Ken Ham said of Atlantis' entry and landing. "We were clearly riding in the middle of a fireball, and it was spectacular. The windows, all of them, were bright, brilliant orange. One of the neatest things was when we flew right into orbital sunrise."

This was the final scheduled flight for Atlantis, which has logged more than 120 million miles during its 25 years of service. The orbiter will go through standard prelaunch preparations as the "launch-on-need" vehicle for Endeavour's STS-134 mission. That flight currently is targeted for November.

The all-veteran astronaut crew headed home to Houston on Thursday. The public is invited to attend the welcome ceremony for the crew Thursday at 4 p.m. CDT at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276.

"We're thrilled, because we accomplished the mission that was put in front of us," Ham said. He explained that in addition to the technical objectives of the 12-day mission, the astronauts also wanted to enjoy themselves and share their enthusiasm of spaceflight with the world.

"We've been hearing stories about how folks have been having fun and enjoyed watching us have fun, and that's really important to us."

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STS-132 Commander: Entry and Landing Were ‘Smooth as Silk’

Space shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts ended a journey of more than 4.8 million miles with an 8:48 a.m. EDT landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flawless landing wrapped up a highly successful mission to deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, known as "Rassvet" ("dawn" in Russian), to the International Space Station.

"It was smooth as silk," STS-132 Commander Ken Ham said of Atlantis' entry and landing. "We were clearly riding in the middle of a fireball, and it was spectacular. The windows, all of them, were bright, brilliant orange. One of the neatest things was when we flew right into orbital sunrise."

This was the final scheduled flight for Atlantis, which has logged more than 120 million miles during its 25 years of service. The orbiter will go through standard prelaunch preparations as the "launch-on-need" vehicle for Endeavour's STS-134 mission. That flight currently is targeted for November.

"Atlantis treated us very well. She was just an incredible ship," Mission Specialist Michael Good said, citing the precision of the deorbit burn as an example of Atlantis' performance. "The engines had it trimmed out to within .01 of what the burn was supposed to be."

The all-veteran astronaut crew will head home to Houston on Thursday. The public is invited to attend the welcome ceremony for the crew Thursday at 4 p.m. CDT at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276.

"We're thrilled, because we accomplished the mission that was put in front of us," Ham said. He explained that in addition to the technical objectives of the 12-day mission, the astronauts also wanted to enjoy themselves and share their enthusiasm of spaceflight with the world.

"We've been hearing stories about how folks have been having fun and enjoyed watching us have fun, and that's really important to us."

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‘A Lot of Praise and Congratulations’ Follow Today’s Landing of Atlantis

Space shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts ended a 12-day journey of more than 4.8 million miles with an 8:48 a.m. EDT landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flawless landing wrapped up a highly successful mission to deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, known as "Rassvet" ("dawn" in Russian), to the International Space Station.

"My hat's off to the team. They make it look easy," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of Space Operations, as he commended the STS-132 astronauts and ground teams at a news conference following landing. "I can tell you it wasn't easy, and they deserve a lot of praise and congratulations for what they've done."

The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last scheduled flight for Atlantis. Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager, spoke highly of everyone who built and maintained Atlantis during the orbiter's 25 years of service.

"The folks who built it, all the missions it's flown over its career, have been just amazing. I can't even begin to talk about how proud I am of Atlantis and the whole team."

Later today, Atlantis will be towed from the runway to its processing facility. It will go through the normal flow of prelaunch preparations in order to serve as the "launch-on-need" vehicle for Endeavour's STS-134 mission, the last scheduled flight of the Space Shuttle Program. That flight currently is targeted for November.

Led by Commander Ken Ham, the all-veteran astronaut crew will head home to Houston on Thursday. The public is invited to attend the welcome ceremony for the crew Thursday at 4 p.m. CDT at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276.

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Atlantis Lands in Florida

Space shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts ended a 12-day journey of more than 4.8 million miles with an 8:48 a.m. EDT landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last scheduled flight for Atlantis. The mission, designated STS-132, delivered the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1 to the International Space Station. Also known as Rassvet ("dawn" in Russian), the module provides additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.

Ken Ham commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen and Piers Sellers.

The mission's three spacewalks focused on replacing and installing components outside the station, including replacing six batteries, installing a communications antenna and adding parts to the Canadian Dextre robotic arm. A welcome ceremony for the astronauts will be held Thursday, May 27, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p.m. CDT event at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276.

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Atlantis’ Payload Bay Doors Closed

At 5:30 a.m. EDT, the crew closed space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay doors for this morning’s first landing opportunity. Mission Control Entry Flight Director Toni Ceccacci and the flight team will continue to monitor the weather, which is observed “go” but is forecast “no go” because of a slight chance of rain showers within 30 nautical miles of the shuttle’s runway. Ceccacci and his team are expected to make a “go/no go” decision for the deorbit burn at 7:21 a.m. The burn would occur at 7:41 a.m. with landing at 8:48 a.m.

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Atlantis Crew Preparing for Landing Today

Atlantis' crew woke at 12:20 a.m. EDT to "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse, played for Commander Ken Ham.

At 3:40 a.m., the astronauts will begin deorbit preparations for landing, and Atlantis' payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed at 5:01 a.m.

Mission Control Entry Flight Director Toni Ceccacci and his team are overseeing Atlantis' systems and monitoring weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. Astronaut Lee Archambault will fly weather reconnaissance and report the results to Mission Control. Ceccacci and his team are expected to make a “go/no go” decision for the deorbit burn at 7:21 a.m. The burn would occur at 7:41 a.m. followed by a landing at Kennedy’s runway 33 at 8:48 a.m.

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STS-132 Crew Prepares for Landing

Tuesday the space shuttle crew participated in interviews and prepared for its return to Earth. The first landing opportunity for Atlantis is Wednesday at 8:48 a.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center.

Wednesday weather forecasts for Kennedy Space Center were generally favorable, though there was a chance of showers within 30 miles of the runway.

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Atlantis Crew Preparing for Wednesday Landing

Atlantis' crew woke at 12:20 a.m. EDT to "Empire State of Mind" by Jay Z, featuring Alicia Keys, played for Mission Specialist Garrett Reisman. His hometown is Parsippany, N.J. Reisman said a special good morning to "my favorite Earthling, Simone," and to all his friends and family in the New York and New Jersey region.

At 3:40 a.m., Atlantis' flight control system will be checked out, and its maneuvering jets will be tested at 4:50 a.m.

At 8:10 a.m., crew members will participate in interviews with the Colbert Report, ABC Radio, and Cleveland's WEWS-TV.

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