Atlantis Astros Feted Today; STS-130 Crew Rehearse

After a flawless mission to resupply the International Space Station, the STS-129 crew members now are back at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will be honored with a homecoming ceremony at nearby Ellington Field today.

Meanwhile, preparations for space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are ramping up for the STS-130 mission targeted to launch Feb. 4, 2010.

Endeavour is scheduled to roll over from the orbiter processing facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in late December. There, it will be lifted and attached to the waiting external tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

The STS-130 crew members, Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts Jr., Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire, are rehearsing deorbit procedures today at Johnson.

Endeavour will deliver a third connecting module, the Tranquility node, to the station in addition to the seven-windowed Cupola module, which will be used as a control room for robotics.

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Atlantis Astros Feted Today; Endeavour Crew Rehearse for STS-130

After a flawless mission to resupply the International Space Station, the STS-129 crew members now are back at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will be honored with a homecoming ceremony at nearby Ellington Field today.

Meanwhile, preparations for space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are ramping up for the STS-130 mission targeted to launch Feb. 4, 2010.

Endeavour is scheduled to roll over from the orbiter processing facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in late December. There, it will be lifted and attached to the waiting external tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

The STS-130 crew members, Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts Jr., Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire, are rehearsing deorbit procedures today at Johnson.

Endeavour will deliver a third connecting module, the Tranquility node, to the station in addition to the seven-windowed Cupola module, which will be used as a control room for robotics.

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Newest Air Force command hiring now for top priority mission

The Air Force Global Strike Command is aggressively working to hire the best people available for one of the Air Force's top priorities--reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise. Active-duty, civilian and Guard and Reserve, especially those with nuclear experience, are being encouraged to apply for positions at AFGSC headquarters at Barksdale and at the units that fall under 8th and 20th Air Forces in six other states.

As a new major command that is still building up to full operational capability, Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, AFGSC commander, said there are a lot of opportunities for people looking for a unique challenge.
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Homecoming for Atlantis

The drag chute unfurled as space shuttle Atlantis landed on Runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after 11 days in space, completing the 4.5-million mile STS-129 mission on orbit 171. Main gear touchdown was at 9:44:23 a.m. EDT. Nose gear touchdown was at 9:44:36 a.m., and wheels stop was at 9:45:05 a.m. On STS-129, the crew delivered 14 tons of cargo to the orbiting laboratory, including two ExPRESS Logistics Carriers containing spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired next year. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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STS-129 Post-landing Crew Conference

Commander Charles O. Hobaugh took the lead describing how well Atlantis performed from launch to landing, and the incredible amount of work that went into preparing both the shuttle and the crew for this ambitious mission.

Hobaugh proudly introduced his crew and the tasks each member was responsible for. He mentioned Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik was not present at the briefing because he flew home to be with his wife and new baby girl, born while he was still on orbit.

Nicole Stott is doing really well, said Hobaugh, after her 91 days in space, 80 of them as flight engineer. She's enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with her family.

Mission Specialist Robert L. Satcher Jr. remarked that the training the crew members received helped them deal with the false alarms that went off a few times during their stay on the orbiting outpost.

After being asked if there were any memories that stood out, Pilot Barry E. Wilmore jokingly said, "I feel great (but) I had noticed that many of the buildings here are on a little bit of a teeter-totter that I didn't know before." Wilmore was referring to coming back to Earth's gravity after being weightless in space.

The crew members fly back to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Saturday. They’ll have the traditional Houston homecoming celebration on Monday.

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NASA Managers Congratulate the STS-129 Mission Crew

During a post-landing press conference held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations said, "This has just been an amazing mission. On-time launch, on-time landing ... just a phenomenal team effort across the board."

Gerstenmaier also gave special thanks to the production workers who prepared the hardware for this flight, especially those who have taken voluntary retirement and have been laid off as part of the staff reduction requirements.

"There's still a lot of activity in front us … still a very busy time," continued Gerstenmaier. "The teams are focused -- we're moving forward and doing great things."

Shuttle Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses agreed that this was an incredibly smooth mission. "It's great to have Atlantis back here at Kennedy," said Moses.

"We have a lot to do," Moses said regarding the remaining space shuttle flights. "We'll need to be diligent and stay focused."

Mike Leinbach, NASA shuttle launch director, said, "The orbiter looks really good, and the crew is doing fine and they reported that Nicole Stott is doing fine as well, so good news there."

"Everything is going really, really well, the orbiter looks great. It's fantastic to be a part of this team. I'm very, very proud of team Atlantis … and looking forward to her next mission."

NASA TV has scheduled the STS-129 crew news conference from Kennedy Space Center at about 3:30 p.m. EST.

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Atlantis Astronauts Back in Crew Quarters

The STS-129 crew members climbed into NASA's silver Astrovan for the short trip back to the crew quarters at Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building. There they will undergo a thorough medical examination and greet their immediate family members.

Meanwhile, space shuttle Atlantis is waiting to be towed back to the orbiter processing facility where it will be prepared for its STS-132 mission to the International Space Station in May.

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