On their final full day in space, the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis is spending a busy Thanksgiving Day in space today as they prepare for landing day on Friday morning.
The seven member crew of the 31st flight of Atlantis is only the seventh space shuttle flight to orbit the earth during the traditional holiday of thanks.
"As we orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, we would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving", Atlantis' commander Charles Hobaugh stated in a message to Americans this morning. The entire crew then gave a "Happy Thanksgiving" cheer.
Earlier this morning, Mission Control near Houston, Texas included in their technical messages the above instructions to the crew of how to prepare a turkey. The instructions were delivered in the same tech jargon as they would discuss how a spacecraft should maneuver. (Click the image for a larger view.)
Aboard the International Space Station, several crew members of the Expedition 21 crew will have turkey, stuffing, green bean and candy yams to celebrate the holiday. Station commander Jeffery Williams is the only American of the now five crew members.
Atlantis will spend today packing and stowing equipment for Friday's return home to the Kennedy Space Center. Hobaugh and pilot Barry Wilmore will test fire select thrusters on the ship as well as power-up and test the elevon, rudders and body flap.
Beginning at 9:13 am, Atlantis' crew will give three Thanksgiving television interviews, including a Tampa Bay station which is the home of returning station astronaut Nicole Stott who has spent some 90 days in space.
Atlantis undocked from the space station yesterday and are returning 2,100 pounds of cargo to earth stored on the middeck of the orbiter.
Touchdown is planned for 9:44 am EST tomorrow on Runway 33 here at Kennedy. NASA's 129th space shuttle flight will perform a deorbit burn at 8:36 am, which will slow the ship down by around 300 mph to begin it's drop out of orbit.
A second landing opportunity at KSC could occur if weather did not corporate for the first opp with a touchdown at 11:19 am. Weather is expected to be great for the first opportunity.
SpaceLaunchNews.com will carry the landing LIVE, as we carry each mission Live from prelaunch to post-landing. Follow us via Twitter: @spacelaunchnews.