February 2008
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DoD Succeeds In Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

DoD Succeeds In Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite
At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force.

STS-122: Atlantis Back At KSC

Atlantis is tucked away safe after a successful mission to the ISSNASA reports:

NASA Celebrates 'Super' Mission

Space shuttle Atlantis landing. NASA PHOTO NO: STS122-S-079 Image: Space shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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Feb. 20
Space shuttle Atlantis soared through a thin layer of clouds over NASA's Kennedy Space Center before touching its wheels to the runway Wednesday to end a flawless STS-122 mission.

"This was just an unbelievably super mission for us," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations. "I can't think of a better way to start this year out than with this great flight."

Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love, Dan Tani and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel flew aboard Atlantis on the way back to Earth.

Although STS-122 lasted about 13 days, Tani had been living in space and aboard the International Space Station for 120 days by the time Atlantis landed. European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts launched aboard Atlantis and took Tani's place on the station.

Two weeks in space did not feel like a long time, the crew said, because there were plenty of tasks to take care of.

"It doesn't feel like about two weeks ago that we launched," Poindexter said.

The mission added the European-built Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station. The lab will host experiments from throughout Europe's scientific community and will be an important part of the orbiting research complex. NASA's own Destiny laboratory was already in orbit as part of the ISS. A Japanese laboratory complex will complete a cutting-edge trio of research bases that will host astronauts and experiments at the station.

"The station missions now are so busy," Frick said. "It's been a tremendous experience. We were very excited and pleased to bring Columbus to the International Space Station."

Space shuttle Endeavour is already perched on its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to launch the first module for the Japanese lab. It is to launch March 11.

"It feels really good to have mission back-to-back again," said Mike Leinbach, launch director at Kennedy. "The team is really pumped to get going and get ready for their next flight."

The seven astronauts will stay at the launch site overnight before flying back to Houston.

Atlantis is back inside its hangar at Kennedy where technicians will get it ready for an August mission to perform the last maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Flight Day 14 pics are up at the JSC Gallery. Landing Day videos here. Discussion here. Status Report #27 here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

Space Station Animation

This is a great animation showing all the segments of the International Space Station, the modules and the international partners that have helped create it.

Navy Waits For Satellite Kill Shot

U.S. Navy gunners in the Pacific were watching the sea and sky Wednesday, waiting for perfect conditions to take a kill shot on an errant satellite 150 miles above them. 


Space shuttle Atlantis has fired its engines, slowing it enough to drop out of orbit. NASA reports:

Atlantis Headed Home

Mission Control gave STS-122 Commander Steve Frick the "go" for deorbit burn, now complete, putting the crew of Atlantis on course for a 9:07 a.m. EST landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center remain favorable for today's first landing opportunity. All systems aboard Atlantis are performing normally, and the crew was given a "go" to begin fluid loading.

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Landing blogs here and here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-122: Landing Day

Flight Day 14 should be the the last in orbit for the Atlantis crew. The orbiter, with seven astronauts aboard, is due to land today at 9:07AM EST.  NASA reports:

STS-122 Crew Looks to End Mission Today

STS-122 commander Steve Frick will fly Atlantis home today. NASA PHOTO NO: S122-E-010926Four landing opportunities are available for space shuttle Atlantis and the STS-122 crew to return to Earth today. Flight controllers and forecasters continue to monitor the weather at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Atlantis’ first landing opportunity is at 9:07 a.m. EST on orbit 202. If controllers elect to take it, Commander Steve Frick will perform the deorbit burn to begin the descent to Kennedy. Orbit 203 provides a second opportunity at 10:42 a.m.

The first opportunity for the California base is on Orbit 204 at 12:12 p.m. The final opportunity – the second at Edwards – is on Orbit 205 at 1:47 p.m.

STS-122 arrived at the International Space Station Feb. 9, delivering the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 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.

In addition, Atlantis delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Leopold Eyharts, an ESA astronaut. He replaced astronaut Daniel Tani, who is returning to Earth aboard Atlantis.

STS-122 is the 121st shuttle mission and 24th mission to visit the space station. The next mission, STS-123, is slated to launch in March.

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Flight Day 13 videos are up at the JSC Gallery. Discussion here. Status Report #26 here. Landing blogs here and here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

There will be a total eclipse of the moon Wednesday night, the last one until 2010. It will be visible in the Americas starting at 8:43PM EST. Western Europeans can see the eclipse early Thursday morning (0143 GMT on 21 Feb).

Will we see the satellite shootdown, too?