Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Atlantis Undocks from International Space Station

NASA - Archive:

"At 2:28 a.m. EDT, space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station while the spacecraft were 243 miles above the Pacific, east of Christchurch, New Zealand. Atlantis spent eight days, 15 hours and 21 minutes attached to the orbiting laboratory.

Over the 37 missions devoted to assembling and maintaining the space station, shuttles were docked for 276 days, 11 hours and 23 minutes – almost 40 weeks.

Pilot Doug Hurley now is moving Atlantis to a distance of 600 feet in front of the complex, where he will halt the shuttle for 27 minutes while the space station yaws 90 degrees to present its longitudinal axis to Atlantis. This will provide Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus the opportunity to snap digital pictures of the station from angles the shuttle never has seen before during a fly-around. Hurley will move Atlantis to a point 600 feet above the station, and then behind it. He then will fire Atlantis’ thrusters to move below the station, and at 4:18 a.m. he will perform a final separation burn to depart the vicinity of the station.

With the two spacecraft separated, Atlantis’ crew will focus on preparing for landing at Kennedy Space Center early Thursday morning. The time of landing has changed slightly, to 5:56 a.m. EDT. Ground tracks have been posted here: http://1.usa.gov/qtBmwx"