Atlantis En Route to California

Atlantis En Route to California

Image above: Astronaut Scott Altman approaches the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in a Shuttle Training Aircraft to assess landing conditions. Image credit: NASA TV

Atlantis En Route to California

STS-117 Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Lee Archambault fired space shuttle Atlantis’ engines at 2:43 p.m. EDT to begin the descent for a 3:49 p.m. landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Atlantis’ flight path will bring it over San Diego and just east of Los Angeles before it touches down at Edwards where it will be greeted by fair skies and light winds.

Rain showers forced flight controllers to wave off two landing opportunities at Kennedy.

Landing will bring to an end a successful construction mission to the International Space Station. Atlantis launched June 8 and arrived at the station on June 10. While at the orbital outpost, the crew installed the Starboard 3 and 4 truss segment and conducted four spacewalks to activate it. During the third spacewalk, the crew repaired an out of position thermal blanket on the left orbital maneuvering system pod.

Atlantis also delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson. He replaced astronaut Suni Williams, who is the new record holder for a long-duration single spaceflight for a woman. She arrived at the station in December with STS-116.

STS-117 is the 118th shuttle mission and 21st mission to visit the space station. The next mission, STS-118, is slated to launch in August.

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