By Ken Kremer for NASA Watch
Space Shuttle Atlantis and her crew of six are headed home from the 32nd flight to space after a flawless 12 day and 3 spacewalk mission to the International Space Station.
The final planned touchdown of Atlantis historic career is set for Wednesday, May 26 at 8:48 AM EDT at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, weather permitting. The weather prognosis from NASA is for about a 50/50 chance of favorable conditions. There is a chance of showers within 30 miles of the runway.
A second KSC landing opportunity is available at 10:22 AM EDT. NASA says the weather conditions look to improve if the landing is delayed to Thursday or Friday. Two KSC landing opportunities are available on Thursday at 9:13 AM and 10:48 AM if the need arises.
Today, Atlantis' flight control system was checked out, and its maneuvering jets were tested at 4:50 AM to prepare the ship for the scorching heat of re-entry into the earth atmosphere after 186 orbits aloft.
On Sunday, Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station for the last time at 11:22 AM EDT while orbiting some 220 miles above the Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. The crew performed a spectacular fly around loop at a distance of about 600 ft before firing maneauering jets to depart
Atlantis primary goal was accomplished on May 18 when the crew delivered and permanently joined the new Russian science and docking module named Rassvet to the ISS. Rassvet was packed with 3,086 pounds of NASA cargo.
This was Atlantis 11th trip to the ISS and the crew spent 7 days, 0 hrs, and 54 minutes at the orbiting laboratory complex. The massive outpost now weighs over 815,000 pounds and is over 98% complete.
Check out my STS 132 launch and mission reports here:
This image features space shuttle Atlantis's cabin and forward cargo bay and part of the International Space Station (Kibo, Harmony, Columbus) while the two spacecraft remain docked during STS-132 mission's Flight Day 4 extravehicular activity. Credit: NASA