Early Tuesday morning Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station, the last time an orbiter will do that. On Thursday morning at 5:56 a.m EDT Atlantis will land at the Kennedy Space Center marking the end of an era, the Space Shuttle era.
On the final day of Atlantis in space the four member crew are performing standard checks of the shuttle’s systems in preparation for landing. They will also pay tribute to Atlantis and the Space Shuttle Program.
Earlier in the day the crew deployed the 180th and final payload during shuttle missions. A small Department of Defense eight-pound, 5″ X 5″ X 10″ technology demonstration satellite, called Pico-Satellite Solar Cell (PicoSat) was deployed from a canister in the shuttle cargo bay. The satellite will relay data back to investigators on the performance of its own solar cells for analysis and possible use on future space hardware. The nano-satellite is expected to have a lifespan of 3 to 9 months.
Atlantis has two opportunities to land at the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow, the first being at 5:56 a.m. EDT and the second at 7:32. When Atlantis lands Thursday, it will have spent 307 days in space and traveled nearly 126 million miles during its 33 flights. Atlantis
launched on its first mission on Oct. 3, 1985.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has invited media to its headquarters in Saint-Hubert to watch the landing and to interview CSA representatives on hand. Media interested in being there in person can arrive starting at 5:15 a.m. EDT. The CSA will also webcast the event starting at 5:00 a.m.