Space Shuttle Atlantis Departs ISS


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Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 4:24 a.m. EST today, ending its almost-nine-day stay at the orbital outpost.

The crew is performing a final inspection of the orbiter's heat shield in preparation for its return home.

STS-122 arrived at the station Feb. 9, delivering the European Space Agency's (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the station. The crews installed Columbus Feb. 11 and conducted three spacewalks to prepare Columbus for its scientific work. They also replaced an expended nitrogen tank on the station's P1 truss.

In addition, Atlantis delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Leopold Eyharts, an ESA astronaut. He replaced astronaut Daniel Tani, who is returning to Earth aboard Atlantis.

The orbiter is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday.

In preparation for STS-123, space shuttle Endeavour arrived at the launch pad at 4:45 a.m. EST. The orbiter was secured at 6:22 a.m. in preparation for its March 11 targeted launch.

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