Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The space shuttle Atlantis separated from the International Space Station this morning following one week of docked operations to resupply and add new equipment to the huge complex.
Atlantis' pilot Barry Wilmore gave a control stick on the aft flight deck a slight nudge and the orbiter undocked from the station at 4:53 am EST this morning as the two crafts flew 216 miles above the area north of New Guinea.
Atlantis spent six days, 17 hours docked with earth's orbital outpost, as the crew performed three spacewalks to install new equipment such as a 1,200-pound oxygen tank; and unloaded 37,000 pounds of food, clothes and fuel to resupply the station. Atlantis is also bringing home a load of garbage from station to clear room for the new equipment. The shuttle also gave the station a much needed altitude boost and attitude change.
Commanded by veteran astronaut Charles Hobaugh, Atlantis' crew includes Wilmore, Leland Melvin, Michael Foreman, Robert Satcher and Brandy BResnik. Atlantis is also bringing home space station flight engineer Nicole Stott who spent 87 days aboard the outpost.
Atlantis' STS-129 mission to the space station was the 31st by a space shuttle, and the 31st flight by Atlantis.
Atlantis is scheduled to land back at the Kennedy Space Center at the start of her 172nd orbit of the flight at 9:44 am EST, on Friday, Nov. 27th.