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Atlantis Undocks for Wednesday Landing

February 18, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 4:24 a.m. EST today, ending its almost-nine-day stay at the orbital outpost.

The crew is performing a final inspection of the orbiter’s heat shield in preparation for its return home.

STS-122 arrived at the 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.

The space shuttle Atlantis crew is expected to complete the 13-day mission to the International Space Station with a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

NASA managers will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before permitting Atlantis to return to Earth. Wednesday landing opportunities at Kennedy are at 9:07 a.m. and 10:42 a.m. EST. There are additional opportunities at 12:12 p.m. and 1:47 p.m. at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., a backup landing site. The shuttle’s other backup site for landing, White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., will not be activated Wednesday.

Two hours after landing, NASA officials will hold a briefing to discuss the mission. The participants will be:

- NASA Administrator Michael Griffin
- NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier
- NASA Space Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach

After touchdown, the astronauts will undergo physical examinations and meet with their families. Some crew members are expected to hold a news conference no earlier 4.5 hours after returning to Earth.

The Kennedy press site will open for landing activities at 5 a.m. Wednesday and close one hour after the crew news conference. The STS-122 accreditation badges are in effect through landing. The press accreditation building on State Road 3 will be open on Wednesday from 5 to 7:30 a.m. The last bus will depart from the press site for the Shuttle Landing Facility one hour before landing.

For updated information about the landing, call 321-867-2525.

For information about the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, journalists should call the Dryden Public Affairs Office at 661-276-3449.

For the latest information about the STS-122 mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For more on the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station




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