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STS-122: Landing Wednesday

Atlantis is due to come home tomorrow (Wednesday). Weather looks good at KSC. NASA reports:

STS-122 Prepares to Land Wednesday

STS-122 crew members Image above: The STS-122 crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis participate in a live interview Tuesday. Photo credit: NASA TV

The crew members of space shuttle Atlantis spent Tuesday getting ready for their return home and the end of the STS-122 mission.

The STS-122 astronauts set up the recumbent seat for Mission Specialist Daniel Tani, who joined the crew of Atlantis on the International Space Station. The recumbent seat is a special seat designed to reduce the stress of gravity on those who have spent long periods of time in the weightless environment of space.

Tani served as Expedition 16 flight engineer for almost four months. He was replaced on the station crew by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Leopold Eyharts.

As part of the preparations, the astronauts also performed a test Tuesday morning of the steering jets – or thrusters – that will be used to position the orbiter for re-entry. They did not test the four aft orbiter maneuvering system vernier thrusters. These share a common heater, which failed overnight, making them inoperative during the test. These four steering jets are not needed for deorbit or landing and will not have an impact on the remainder of the mission.

The crew members also successfully tested the control surfaces to be used during Atlantis' flight through the atmosphere.

STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station’s P1 truss.

The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday. Atlantis’ first landing opportunity is at 9:07 a.m. EST.

+ View landing ground tracks

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Flight Day 12 pics and video are up at the JSC Gallery. Discussion here. Status Report #25 here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

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