Status Report

Atlantis Begins Nine-Minute “Backflip”

By SpaceRef Editor
July 10, 2011
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Atlantis Begins Nine-Minute “Backflip”

At 10:05 a.m. EDT, space shuttle Atlantis began the nine-minute Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or “backflip.” With Commander Chris Ferguson at the helm, Atlantis is rotating 360 degrees backward to enable space station crew members to take high resolution digital pictures of the shuttle’s heat shield. Three cameras outfitted with 1,000 mm, 800 mm and 400 mm lenses are capturing photos that will provide Mission Control experts with the best possible imagery to validate the integrity of Atlantis’ heat shield.

After the backflip is complete, Ferguson will fly Atlantis through a quarter circle to a position about 310 feet directly in front of the station, allowing the complex to catch up with the shuttle for docking at 11:07 a.m.

SpaceRef staff editor.