Sunday, July 17, 2011

STS-135: Update

Joint crew of STS135 and Expedition 28.

My employers unexpectedly required me to be in San Diego for a work conference last week, and so I was unable to make a few mission blogs covering the launch of shuttle Atlantis and the crew of STS-135. By now you all should be aware that the launch was successful, and that operations on the ISS are proceeding as planned.

Launch from Pad 39A.

Despite some concerns about possible weather delays, the shuttle took off last Friday on the official last mission of a space shuttle to the ISS. Its four member crew performed visual checks of the shuttle heat tiles the next day, and docked to ISS on Sunday. DUring the next couple of days the ground controllers monitored potential danger from nearby Russian space junk.

View from spacewalking astronaut Ron Garan.

On Tuesday, Astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum conducted the last spacewalk during a shuttle mission to ISS. During the six-and-a-half hour EVA, they Retrieved a failed pump for return to Earth, installed a couple of experiments, and constructed a new base for the station's robotic arms.

Astronaut Sandy Magnus floats amidst supply packs.

Astronauts also continued to unload cargo from the Rafael resupply module stored in the shuttle's cargo bay. This task was made easier by using the robotic arms to pick up the cargo pod and move it into docking with the station itself! During all the resupply operations, astronauts also conducted interviews with reporters and took a special phone call from President Obama.

Time alone to ponder. Sandy Magnus in the Observation cupola.

Atlantis is scheduled to return in four days.

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