Spaceflight Now: STS-101 Mission Report


May 29, 2000 -- Follow the mission of space shuttle Atlantis to repair the International Space Station. Reload this page for the very latest on the flight.

See our current Mission Status Center for updates on space shuttle Atlantis' mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch Sept. 8.

0757 GMT (3:57 a.m. EDT)

The shuttle Atlantis glided to a smooth nighttime landing early today, touching down on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center to close out a near-flawless space station repair mission. Read our full story.

Also, be sure to watch our QuickTime video clip of the landing.

0742 GMT (3:42 a.m. EDT)

The seven astronauts have departed the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center after taking some time to walk around Atlantis on the runway and visit with workers. They are taking the 20-minute ride to KSC's Operations & Checkout Building, which serves as the crew quarters. The astronauts will spend the night in Florida before returning home on Tuesday.

Technicians plan to tow space shuttle Atlantis from the runway to Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 at about 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT), arriving outside the building an hour later and fully inside by 8:15 a.m. EDT (1215 GMT). In the OPF hangar Atlantis will undergo post-flight deservicing to prepare the shuttle for its next space journey -- the STS-106 mission in September to outfit the International Space Station for the first full-time resident crew. Liftoff is tentatively scheduled for around Sept. 8, which is the next space shuttle launch.

Here are the preliminary landing times:

Main gear touchdown
2:20:17 a.m. EDT
MET of 9 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes, 8 seconds

Nose gear touchdown
2:20:30 a.m. EDT
MET of 9 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes, 20 seconds

Wheels stop
2:21:19 a.m. EDT
MET of 9 days, 20 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds

0701 GMT (3:01 a.m. EDT)

All seven of Atlantis' astronauts have left the shuttle. They are currently inside the motorized Crew Transport Vehicle. It is expected that at least some of the astronauts will make the traditional walkaround of the shuttle on the runway shortly. Later, the astronauts will head to Kennedy Space Center's Operations & Checkout Building to be reunited with their families. A press conference with the crew is planned for 7:30 or 8 a.m. EDT (1130 or 1200 GMT) today at KSC. The astronauts are slated to return to their homes in Houston on Tuesday.

Watch our QuickTime video clip of this morning's landing.

0640 GMT (2:40 a.m. EDT)

The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- has pulled into position next to Atlantis' crew hatch. The CTV features beds and comfortable seats for the astronauts to receive medical checks and get their balance after returning to Earth's gravity from the weightless environment of space.

0637 GMT (2:37 a.m. EDT)

The astronauts are going through standard post-landing safing of Atlantis. The main engine nozzles are being moved to the "rain drain" position and the external tank umbilical doors have been opened. Also, pilot Scott Horowitz has shut down Atlantis' three Auxiliary Power Units.

Mission Control just told the Atlantis astronauts they can take off their day-glo orange launch and entry spacesuits. The crew should exit the shuttle within the next 40 to 45 minutes.

0624 GMT (2:24 a.m. EDT)

Post-landing safing of Atlantis is underway. No problems have been reported with the ship or crew after a smooth nighttime touchdown. It will be another 45 minutes or so before the astronauts exit Atlantis.

0621 GMT (2:21 a.m. EDT)

WHEELS STOP. Atlantis has rolled to a stop at Kennedy Space Center following a 10-day mission to extend the life of systems aboard the International Space Station.

0620 GMT (2:20 a.m. EDT)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown. Space shuttle Atlantis rolls out on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center to complete a successful service call to the International Space Station.

0619 GMT (2:19 a.m. EDT)

Wheels down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15.

0619 GMT (2:19 a.m. EDT)

Wings are level. One minute to touchdown.

0618 GMT (2:18 a.m. EDT)

Field in sight. Commander Halsell can see the runway as he pilots Atlantis to the 14th nighttime landing in shuttle program history.

0617 GMT (2:17 a.m. EDT)

Atlantis is in the heading alignment cone, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. Jim Halsell will make a 245-degree left-overhead turn. Speed is 500 miles per hour.

0616 GMT (2:16 a.m. EDT)

Commander Jim Halsell has taken manual control of Atlantis. The sonic booms have been heard at KSC, announcing the shuttle's arrival.

0615 GMT (2:15 a.m. EDT)

Mission Control says the winds at the runway is a direct crosswind of 7 peaking to 10 knots. Drag chute deployment will be per the normal plan.

0614 GMT (2:14 a.m. EDT)

Now 6 minutes to landing. Live video is being received from a camera mounted in Atlantis' cockpit.

0612 GMT (2:12 a.m. EDT)

Air data probes have been deployed from the shuttle's nose to feed information to the computers.

0611 GMT (2:11 a.m. EDT)

Atlantis has made landfall over the west coast of Florida at an altitude of 24 miles. Time to touchdown is 9 minutes.

0610 GMT (2:10 a.m. EDT)

Ground-based radar is now tracking the shuttle, confirming Atlantis is on the proper course to Kennedy Space Center. Predications currently show Atlantis landing 2,600 feet down the runway at a speed of 205 miles per hour.

0609 GMT (2:09 a.m. EDT)

The TACAN navigation units aboard Atlantis are now receiving data from beacons located at the runway at Kennedy Space Center, some 359 miles away. Eleven minutes to landing.

0606 GMT (2:06 a.m. EDT)

Inside the final 14 minutes of Atlantis' flight. Altitude is currently 34 miles as the shuttle descends at a rate of 88 feet per second. The shuttle is crossing the Gulf of Mexico bound for Florida.

0605 GMT (2:05 a.m. EDT)

The shuttle is banking to right, the second of four rolls during entry designed to reduce speed. Velocity currently 11,000 miles per hour, some 900 miles from Kennedy Space Center.

0603 GMT (2:03 a.m. EDT)

Atlantis has made landfall over North America, flying high over southern Mexico. Speed has dropped to 12,600 miles per hour.

0600 GMT (2:00 a.m. EDT)

Now 20 minutes to touchdown on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Atlantis' aerosurfaces will become active shortly with the exception of the rudder, which won't be useful until the shuttle slows to Mach 5.

0556 GMT (1:56 a.m. EDT)

The space shuttle is currently in the first of four planned banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. This is a turn to the left. These rolls basically remove the energy Atlantis built up during launch.

Atlantis is currently at altitude of 47 miles with a speed over 16,000 miles per hour.

0555 GMT (1:55 a.m. EDT)

All is reported in readiness at Kennedy Space Center for landing at 2:20 a.m. EDT. The landing convoy team members began gathering at 11:15 p.m. EDT and reported on station at 12:15 a.m. EDT. The team was briefed by the convoy commander occurred at 12:45 a.m. EDT and deployment of the various vehicles to Runway 15 was at 1:15 a.m. EDT to support post-landing work to safe the shuttle after wheels stop. Atlantis will be towed to its hangar about 3 1/2 hours after landing.

The latest weather observation at the runway shows a visibility of 10 miles, just a few clouds at 27,000 feet, southwesterly winds at 7 to 9 knot, a temperature of 79 degrees F and relavity humidity of 68 percent.

0550 GMT (1:50 a.m. EDT)

Now 30 minutes until Atlantis' landing at the Kennedy Space Center. There have been no problems reported with the shuttle's systems as the craft begins its plunge through the atmosphere.

0548 GMT (1:48 a.m. EDT)

The protective tiles on the belly of Atlantis are now feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere -- a period known as Entry Interface. The shuttle is flying with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet, passing over the southern Pacific Ocean, about 4,400 nautical miles from the landing site, at a velocity of Mach 25, descending at a rate of 500 feet per second. Touchdown is set for 2:20 a.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

0540 GMT (1:40 a.m. EDT)

Mission Control reports Atlantis is beginning to pick up speed as it free-falls towards Earth's atmosphere. The shuttle will hit the top levels of the discernable atmosphere, a point called called Entry Interface, in about eight minutes at altitude of 400,000 feet.

0536 GMT (1:36 a.m. EDT)

All three Auxiliary Power Units are running to supply pressure to the shuttle's hydraulic systems, which in turn move Atlantis' aerosurfaces and deploy the landing gear. One unit was started prior to the deorbit burn; the others just a few moments ago. Mission Control reports seeing good pressures in all three APUs. The units are only activated during the launch and landing phases of the shuttle mission.

0530 GMT (1:30 a.m. EDT)

The astronauts are now starting to dump unneeded propellant through four thrusters on the nose of Atlantis.

Landing today will occur on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center -- the northwest to southeast strip of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The SLF was built in 1975. It is 300 feet wide and 15,000 feet long with 1,000-foot overruns at each end. The strip is located about 3 miles northwest of the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building.

0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)

Commander Jim Halsell is now maneuvering Atlantis from its upside down, tail-forward position needed for the deorbit burn to the reentry configuration of heads-up and nose-forward. The nose also will be pitched upward 40 degrees. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere.

0516 GMT (1:16 a.m. EDT)

DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Atlantis has successfully completed the deorbit burn, committing the shuttle for its journey back to Earth. "We're on our way home," commander Jim Halsell radioed from the shuttle. Landing is scheduled for 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) on runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Today's landing will be the 22nd consecutive to occur at Kennedy Space Center dating back to May 1996 and the 29th of the last 30 shuttle missions. KSC is the most used landing site for the space shuttle program with this the 51st touchdown. Edwards Air Force Base in California has seen 45 landings and White Sands in New Mexico supported one. This also will be the 14th night landing for a space shuttle.

0512 GMT (1:12 a.m. EDT)

Flying upside down and backwards over the Indian Ocean, space shuttle Atlantis has begun the deorbit burn for return to Earth. The firing of the two OMS engines on the tail of the shuttle will last three-minutes, five-seconds, slowing the craft by a little over 200 miles per hour, just enough to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Atlantis toward a touchdown at 2:20 a.m. EDT on a runway just miles from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad where the shuttle lifted off 10 days ago.

0510 GMT (1:10 a.m. EDT)

Two minutes to ignition of the deorbit burn. Atlantis has been maneuvered to the proper attitude for the engine firing.

0507 GMT (1:07 a.m. EDT)

Now five minutes from the deorbit burn. Pilot Scott Horowitz has activated Auxiliary Power Unit No. 2 in advance of the burn. The other two APUs will be started later in the descent to provide pressure needed to power shuttle's hydraulic systems that move the wing flaps, rudder/speed brake, drop the landing gear and steer the nose wheel.

0458 GMT (12:58 a.m. EDT)

Atlantis has started maneuvers in space to the deorbit burn attitude. The shuttle will be flying upside-down and backwards with its tail pointed in the direction of travel. The upcoming burn, now 14 minutes away, will slow Atlantis below orbital velocity, allowing the craft to slip from space and begin the hour-long glide to a pin-point touchdown at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

0449 GMT (12:49 a.m. EDT)

GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! With acceptable weather at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Mission Control has given space shuttle Atlantis the "go" to perform the deorbit burn at 1:12:10 a.m. EDT (0512:10 GMT), a 3-minute, 5-second engine firing that will drop the spaceplane from orbit. Atlantis is headed toward an nighttime landing at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) on Runway 15 at KSC to conclude the 10-day STS-101 mission to repair the International Space Station.

0446 GMT (12:46 a.m. EDT)

Entry Flight Director John Shannon is now polling his team in Mission Control for a "go/no go" for the deorbit burn, which is now 26 minutes away.

0432 GMT (12:32 a.m. EDT)

Atlantis' astronauts report their deorbit preparation checklist has been completed, which began about 3 1/2 hours ago. Most recently finished was deactivating the shuttle's kitchen and toilet.

With the entry checklist now opened, the crew has performed a successful steering check of the orbital maneuvering system engine nozzles needed for the upcoming deorbit burn. Also, switches in the cockpit were flipped to pre-start the shuttle's three Auxiliary Power Units used to drive the shuttle's hydraulics for moving the wing flaps, deploying the landing gear and steering the nose wheel upon touchdown.

Weather conditions are still promising for an on-time landing at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) today.

0408 GMT (12:08 a.m. EDT)

The weather picture is improving at Kennedy Space Center! The latest forecast is now calling for maximum winds of 10 knots, well within the crosswind limit for landing tonight.

Mission Control has instructed the astronauts to begin the "fluid loading" procedure in which each crewmember drinks large amounts of liquids to aid in readapting after landing. This is a major milestone to support the first opportunity for entry and landing.

Entry Flight Director John Shannon will make a final decision whether or not to allow Atlantis to return home on schedule at around 12:58 a.m. EDT. The deorbit burn would then follow at 1:12:10 a.m. EDT, followed by touchdown at 2:20 a.m. EDT.

0405 GMT (12:05 a.m. EDT)

The astronauts have begun putting on their gay-glo orange launch and entry suits while at the Kennedy Space Center, chief NASA astronaut Charlie Precourt is flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft around the area for weather reconnaissance. Preparations remain on track for Atlantis' homecoming to Florida at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT), if weather permits.

0340 GMT (11:40 p.m. EDT)

Clocks in Mission Control and aboard shuttle Atlantis continue to count down to tonight's planned entry and landing at Kennedy Space Center. Crosswinds at the runway are still being closely monitored. The forecast remains "no go" with a crosswinds expected up to 13 knots, or one knot above the allowable limit.

In space, the astronauts have switched Atlantis' flight computers from the on-orbit to the entry software called OPS-3. Also, switches in the cockpit were verified in the correct positions for the return to Earth.

CAPCOM Rick Sturckow just radioed the latest entry data to commander Jim Halsell on the flight deck of Atlantis. The deorbit burn is scheduled to begin at 1:12:10 a.m. EDT (0512:10 GMT) using the shuttle's twin orbital maneuvering system engines for three minutes and five seconds beginning. The burn will slow Atlantis by about 314 feet per second, enough to drop the 110-ton shuttle from orbit to start the hour-long dive through Earth's atmosphere.

At 2:16 a.m. EDT (0616 GMT), commander Halsell will make a 245-degree left-overhead turn to align Atlantis with Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15. Touchdown is expected at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT).

0256 GMT (10:56 p.m. EDT)

Mission Control just told the Atlantis astronauts that weather conditions -- specifically crosswinds -- are still being watched at the Kennedy Space Center. Winds are currently at 10 knots, which is acceptable for landing. The limit is 12 knots.

The earlier concerns with rain has not materialized.

Landing remains scheduled for 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT).

0237 GMT (10:37 p.m. EDT)

Atlantis' two 60-foot long payload bay doors have been closed and locked for tonight's return from space. The port door was swung shut first followed by the starboard door.

Activities remain on track to support a landing at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) at Kennedy Space Center, weather permitting. There has not been any change in the forecast, which is still calling for crosswinds to be slightly above the acceptable limit at the runway. A second and final landing opportunity of the night will come one orbit later at KSC with touchdown at 3:56 a.m. EDT (0756 GMT).

Upcoming in the next few minutes, the astronauts will transition the shuttle's onboard computers from the OPS-2 on-orbit software to the OPS-3 package for landing. In about 75 minutes, the crew will don their day-glo orange launch and entry spacesuits.

Over the past hour or so, the mission specialists seats were reinstalled after being stored away following launch, the craft's hydraulic system was configured, the flash evaporator cooling system checkout was completed and deactivation of the payloads was finished.

0115 GMT (9:15 p.m. EDT)

The deorbit preparation timeline has been started by the astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis as NASA remains hopeful weather conditions will allow the spaceplane to land tonight.

Entry flight director John Shannon just received a full weather briefing from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group forecasters in Mission Control. The forecast is still calling for unacceptable crosswinds at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility at the planned 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT) touchdown. West-southwesterly winds are expected at 8 gusting to 13 knots, and the limit is 12 knots.

Other than crosswinds, there are no other weather concerns tonight.

Read our earlier Mission Status Center coverage of STS-101.

Ground track
See the path Atlantis will take on its return to Earth with our STS-101 Landing Tracker.

KSC Orbit 155 - touchdown in Florida at 0620 GMT.

Video vault
Space shuttle Atlantis makes a smooth nighttime landing at the Kennedy Space Center under the control of commander Jim Halsell.
  PLAY (171k, 23sec QuickTime file)
Atlantis astronaut Jim Voss gives a guided tour through the International Space Station.
  PLAY (1.3M, 2min 3sec QuickTime file)
Atlantis astronauts replace a faulty battery and associated electronics in the floor of station's Zarya module.
  PLAY (411k, 56sec QuickTime file)
The Russian Strela cargo boom is assembled and attached to the International Space Station by spacewalking astronauts.
  PLAY (326k, 34sec QuickTime file)
Spacewalkers remove and replace a failed U.S. communications antenna assembly from the side of the International Space Station.
  PLAY (172k, 18sec QuickTime file)
Space shuttle Atlantis blasts off at sunrise on May 19 on a 10-day repair mission to the International Space Station.
  PLAY (480k, 56sec QuickTime file)
A tracking camera positioned in front of launch pad 39A gives this dramatic view of shuttle Atlantis lifting off.
  PLAY (157k, 19sec QuickTime file)
Atlantis' twin solid rocket boosters are separted just over two minutes into flight to fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
  PLAY (176k, 36sec QuickTime file)
The seven-member crew of space shuttle Atlantis leave their quarters on May 19 for the launch pad.
  PLAY (299k, 14sec QuickTime file)
The sun sets on launch complex 39A and the rotating service structure is pulled away from the shuttle. One hour is compressed into seconds in this time lapsed video.
  PLAY (146k, 15sec QuickTime file)
NASA animation with narration shows Atlantis approaching and docking to the International Space Station and later separating for return to Earth.
  PLAY (249k, 1min, 04sec QuickTime file)
STS-101 Lead Flight Director Phil Engelauf describes the goals and objectives of Atlantis' mission to the International Space Station.
  PLAY (269k, 38sec QuickTime file)

Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.

Meet the crew
Get to know the seven astronauts that are aboard shuttle Atlantis' mission in Spaceflight Now's crew report. You can read their biographies and hear the crew decribe the flight in movie clips.

Pre-launch briefing
STS-101 index - See a listing of all our STS-101 stories and coverage.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Launch windows - The predicted windows in which Atlantis could launch over the the next week.

Mission timeline - Look ahead with a brief summary of events planned each day during the shuttle flight.

Photo gallery

In the VAB - Atlantis is hoisted vertically and attached to its fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assmbly Building. A main engine was also replaced.

Rollout - The fully assembled shuttle Atlantis is rolled to launch pad 39A.

Fixing Atlantis - Workers replace the faulty hydraulic unit aboard Atlantis last week.

Explore the Net
NASA Human Spaceflight - Space agency Web site dedicated to International Space Station and space shuttle programs.

Press kit - Official STS-101 mission press kit.

CBS News - Comprehensive coverage of STS-101 by respected journalist William Harwood.

SpaceRef - STS-101 space shuttle mission guide.

Shuttle Media Reference Guide - Complete in-depth look at space shuttle systems and facilities.

Shuttle search
SpaceRef search engine will scour five major space shuttle web sites in seconds.
Powered by SpaceRef