Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Atlantis Undocked From ISS


Shuttle Atlantis is on its way back to Earth after an eventful construction mission to the ISS. Undocking yesterday, the orbiter is scheduled to arrive in Florida at Cape Kennedy tomorrow afternoon.

" STS-117 crew arrived at the ISS on June 10 and performed four spacewalks to install a new pair of 17.5-ton trusses and unfurl two new solar arrays to the station's starboard side. The astronauts also stowed an older solar wing atop the station, stapled down a torn shuttle thermal blanket and assisted the Expedition 15 crew to revive vital Russian ISS computer systems after they failed last week.

During the shuttle mission, a new ISS crewmember relieved NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who passed the 191-day mark in space Tuesday and is setting a new record for the longest spaceflight by a female astronaut. She joined the space station crew in December 2006 and relinquished her Expedition 15 flight engineer post to fellow NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson."

The STS-117 mission was the first of four planned shuttle missions slated for ISS construction this year. The new solar arrays delivered on this mission will allow for the the station to be expanded significantly when European and Japanese built modules are added later this year.
The new array gives the station a more balanced appearance, with each side of the orbiting outpost now featuring power generating solar panels.

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