Photo Gallery: Atlantis' payload bay emptied

The final space shuttle payloads were removed from Atlantis' cargo bay Tuesday morning inside Kennedy Space Center's orbiter processing hangar. The Italian-made Raffaello logistics module and the failed ammonia coolant pump returned from the International Space Station during the July shuttle mission.

Technicians spent about an hour carefully getting the heavy-duty lifting crane connected to the two payloads, then swiftly hoisted the elements out of Atlantis and over to the transportation canister parked inside the hangar.

The 22,000-pound Raffaello made four trips to the space station to deliver equipment and supplies to the outpost. The Atlantis flight took 9,403 pounds of cargo to the outpost, then brought 5,666 pounds of trash and no-longer-needed items off the station for return to Earth.

That 780-pound ammonia pump experienced some sort of electrical short on July 31, 2010, knocking out half of the space station's thermal cooling system. It was replaced during a series of three spacewalks performed last August by the Expedition 24 crew using a spare prepositioned aboard the station. NASA wanted to get this failed unit back on the ground so engineers can figure out what caused the malfunction.

Photos by Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now


Space models