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The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-129
Payload: ISS ULF 3
Launch: Nov. 16, 2009
Time: 2:28 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: Nov. 27 @ 9:44 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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Shuttle astronauts bid space station fliers farewell
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 24, 2009


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The Atlantis astronauts used the shuttle's maneuvering thrusters to boost the International Space Station's altitude by more than a mile early Tuesday, participated in a change-of-command ceremony aboard the lab complex and then bid their station colleagues farewell before closing hatches to set the stage for undocking Wednesday.

Shuttle commander Charles Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore, Leland Melvin, Robert Satcher, Michael Foremanm, Randolph Bresnik and returning space station flight engineer Nicole Stott, wrapping up a three-month stay in space, joined the station crew a final time in the forward Harmony module around 12:40 p.m. EST.

"Working together as one team instead of two separate groups, it's a real testament to cooperation and everyone working toward a common goal," Hobaugh said. "So thanks."

Expedition 21 commander Frank De Winne of Belgium said "everything was very smooth, from the moment we opened the hatch until now that we transfer our last item, Nicole, over to you. Take good care of her. ... Thanks a lot for all the laughs and the joy you brought us and all the good work."

Stott, jokingly referred to as transfer item 914, embraced her former station crewmates and then was gently pushed across the module to the shuttle crew.

And with that, the seven shuttle fliers floated through the station's forward port and into Atlantis, sharing final hugs and handshakes as they departed. Hatches between the two spacecraft were closed at 1:12 p.m. If all goes well, Atlantis will undock from the station at 4:53 a.m. Wednesday.

The astronauts will carry out a final heat shield inspection and then spend Thanksgiving day testing Atlantis' re-entry systems and packing up for landing at the Kennedy Space Center around 9:44 a.m. Friday.

"Once the hatches are closed, we'll undock bright and early in the morning, we're going to do a one-lap fly around of the International Space Station to take imagery and gain engineering data on the exterior health of the space station," said Flight Director Mike Sarafin.

"We'll separate and do a waste dump to empty the tanks on the shuttle and then get right into the late (heat shield) inspecftion activities, which will wrap up flight day 10. After that, we'll prepare to bring Atlantis home, hopefully on Friday."

Over the course of the 129th shuttle mission, the Atlantis astronauts staged three spacewalks and delivered nearly 15 tons of spare components, equipment and supplies, including 1,400 pounds of fresh water to supplement the station's on-board supplies. The shuttle is bringing down some 2,100 pounds of gear from the station, including a centrifuge from the lab's urine recycling system that broke down before the shuttle's arrival.

The unit is the second distillation assembly to fail since the water recycling system was activated late last year. NASA plans to re-launch the first unit, which has been refurbished and improved, on the next shuttle flight in February. The unit being returned aboard Atlantis will be repaired and a third distillation assembly should be completed later this year.

The urine recycling system is critical to NASA's long-range plans to operate the station after the shuttle fleet is retired late next year. NASA plans to build six DAs in all to protect against failures down the road.

Earlier Tuesday, the combined crews held a space station change-of-command ceremony. Expedition 21 commander De Winne, a European Space Agency astronaut, was relieved by NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, who arrived at the station in October.

De Winne became ESA's first space station commander Oct. 9 when he relieved cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. De Winne, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian astronaut Roberet Thirsk, launched to the station May 27, are scheduled to undock and return to Earth Monday, landing in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule to wrap up a 188-day stay in space.

"It has been an honor, a pleasure and a privilege to be able to work with this wonderful crew in Expedition 21," De Winne said. "But it's also been an honor and a pleasure to work with all the ground teams in the different control centers. The support that I've received both from my crew and from the control centers has been tremendous and magnificent.

"As the first European commander, it has been a great honor to be able to fulfill this role and I've only done this thanks to the help of all my colleagues as well at the European astronaut center and all the other European astronauts who have flown before me and have also shown excellence in their jobs."

Said Williams: "Frank, I'd also like to congratulate you on being the first commander of the space station that wasn't a Russian cosmonaut or a NASA astronaut. You've done a very good job, you have set the bar very high for me and also for all of those who follow us. So I want to congratulate you on that great achievement. You were the right person to transition us fully into six-crew (member) operations. So thank you for that and congratulations again."

Williams also praised De Winne's original two crewmates, Romanenko and Thirsk, as well as Stott, taking a moment to pin astronaut wings on her shirt as her first space mission draws to a close. A few moments later, he officially assumed command.

"Jeff, I'm ready to stand relieved," De Winne said.

"I relieve you of command," Williams replied.

"I stand relieved."

Wilmore then rang the ship's bell, the shuttle and station crews shook hands and the ceremony came to an end.

With the Monday departure of De Winne, Romanenko and Thirsk, Williams and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev will have the station to themselves until the arrival of another Soyuz Dec. 23 carrying cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA flight engineer Timothy Creamer and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

The next shuttle visit is scheduled for launch around Feb. 6, a flight that will deliver one of the final U.S. pressurized modules to the lab complex. The station currently is about 86 percent complete, weighing some 760,000 pounds.

"The space station now is nearly complete," Thirsk said during a joint crew news conference earlier Tuesday. "If you think you've seen some pretty interesting expeditions aboard the space station, you ain't seen nothing yet. We're entering the golden era of the International Space Station program and science and technology demonstrations are going to take off from here."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE STATION CHANGE OF COMMAND PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION CREW JOINT CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 9 PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 8 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ENDING OF MISSION'S THIRD AND FINAL SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS INSTALL OXYGEN TANK ONTO AIRLOCK PLAY
VIDEO: HIGH-PRESSURE OXYGEN TANK REMOVED FROM PALLET PLAY
VIDEO: GATHERING SCIENCE CASES FROM SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 8 PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA FROM LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION PLAY

VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH RANDY AND REBECCA PLAY
VIDEO: BIRTH OF BABY BRESNIK ANNOUNCED FROM ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: EDUCATIONAL EVENT WITH TENNESSEE TECH UNIVERSITY PLAY
VIDEO: WASHINGTON, TAMPA AND CHICAGO MEDIA INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 6 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS INSTALL WIRELESS VIDEO ANTENNA PLAY
VIDEO: MEASUREMENT PROBE RELOCATED ON STATION TRUSSES PLAY
VIDEO: EXPERIMENTAL COMMUNICATION PACKAGE INSTALLED PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SPARE PARTS PALLET MOVED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP SUMMARY OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 6 PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ESPN, BET AND RICHMOND TV INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: MELVIN AND SATCHER ON MORNING RADIO SHOW PLAY
VIDEO: CBS, NASHVILLE TV AND FOX RADIO INTERVIEWS PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SPAEWALKERS HAMMER STUCK BRACE ON TRUSS PLAY
VIDEO: MAINTENANCE WORK ON JAPANESE ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: ENJOYING THE VIEW OF SHUTTLE AND STATION PLAY
VIDEO: REFURBISHED S-BAND ANTENNA INSTALLED PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS MOVE ANTENNA FROM SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 1 GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP SUMMARY OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 4 PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: AERIAL LAUNCH AND SRB SPLASHDOWN FOOTAGE PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SPARE PARTS CARRIER INSTALLED ONTO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARM HANDS PALLET TO STATION'S ARM PLAY
VIDEO: LOGISTICS CARRIER 1 UNBERTHED FROM SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE CREW FLOATS INTO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS DOCKS TO THE SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE PERFORMS 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY
VIDEO: BEAUTIFUL VIEWS OF ATLANTIS APPROACHING PLAY
VIDEO: SUMMARY OF THE SPARE PARTS PALLETS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF PALLET NO. 1 DELIVERY ON FLIGHT DAY 3 PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF RENDEZVOUS AND DOCKING PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES LOGISTICS CARRIER 1 PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 2 PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED TOUR OF THE PAYLOAD BAY PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL ROOM PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAYS: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: CREW FINISHES GETTING SUITED UP PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS LEAVE CREW QUARTERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LIFTOFF OF SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS! PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PLAYALINDA BEACH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS HI-DEF

VIDEO: STUNNING SUNSET ROLLBACK OF PAD GANTRY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: A LOOK AT SPACE STATION SCIENCE RESEARCH PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-129 PRE-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: NARRATED MISSION OVERVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MEET SHUTTLE ATLANTIS' ASTRONAUTS PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS TOUR PAD'S CLEANROOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BOARDS SHUTTLE FOR TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PAYLOADS DELIVERED TO PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: PLACING PAYLOADS INTO TRANSPORTER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES AT CAPE FOR TRAINING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-129 MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ROLLOUT IN FAST-FORWARD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS TAKES PERCH ATOP PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM ASSEMBLY BUILDING BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ASSEMBLY IN FAST-FORWARD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF ATLANTIS ATTACHED TO FUEL TANK PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS LEAVES HANGAR FOR NEXT LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF ATLANTIS ARRIVING IN VAB PLAY
VIDEO: CLOSING ATLANTIS' PAYLOAD BAY DOORS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FUEL TANK ATTACHED TO SOLID ROCKETS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS MAKE A VISIT TO THE CAPE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER DOCKING SYSTEM CHECKED OUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS' FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM BARGE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK ARRIVES AT THE LAUNCH SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
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