NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis Set to Land Wednesday


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

The STS-122 mission began Feb. 7 and delivered the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory to the station. Columbus expands the station's research facilities and provides scientists around the world with the ability to conduct a variety of life, physical and materials science experiments. The mission also included three spacewalks, the delivery of a new crew member to the station and the return of another astronaut after his nearly four month stay aboard the complex.

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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