From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - The final space shuttle crew is now just hours away from undocking from the International Space Station, one more time.
Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim began their day at 8:59 p.m. Their wakeup call came in the form of Coldplay's "Don't Panic," which was played for Hurley.
After 37 space shuttle visits, in which 10 modules, four sets of solar arrays, 354 feet of truss and countless science experiments - not to mention the necessities of day-to-day living in space - have been delivered, space shuttle Atlantis will pull away from the space station for the last time at 1:28 a.m.
Before the crew gets too far away, however, they'll have one more service to perform for the orbiting laboratory. Hurley will move the shuttle out to a distance of 600 feet away, and then fly half a loop around the station, so that Atlantis' astronauts can document once more the product of the space shuttle fleet's efforts.
Although a fly-around has been performed following undocking for most of the shuttle missions to the station, this last half lap should provide some new views. The space station will rotate 90 degrees to give the shuttle crew a view down its long axis, an angle not normally visible.
The fly-around should be complete by 2:50 a.m., at which point Atlantis' engines will fire in a series of burns to begin moving it further away from the space station. The crew on board will spend the second half of its day inspecting the shuttle's heat shield for any damage it may have received while in space.
The next status report will be issued at the end of the crew's day or earlier if warranted. The crew is scheduled to go to sleep just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
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