From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - The final shuttle crew's final full day in space began with a fanfare - literally - and fond greetings from Florida.
Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim woke up at 8:32 p.m. to Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." It was followed by a prerecorded message from Kennedy Space Center employees.
"Three ... two ... one ... Good morning, Atlantis!" the group said. "Kennedy salutes you. See you back at wheels stop!"
Kennedy is, of course, home to the space shuttle fleet, along with its launch pads and the people who prepared the shuttles for each trip into space. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Kennedy on Thursday.
Before it does so, however, the STS-135 crew will spend the day checking out the shuttle's flight control surfaces and hot firing its reaction control system jets, making sure everything is ready for deorbit. They'll also pause in their work for one last round of interviews with reporters back home - at 3:44 a.m., the crew will be talking with ABC News, CBS News, CNN, FoxNews and NBC News.
Meanwhile, here on the ground, another United States icon will pay its own tribute to Atlantis' mission. The Empire State Building in New York City - instantly recognizable, just as the NASA space shuttle is - will celebrate the Space Shuttle Program Wednesday night by lighting the way home for Atlantis and its crew.
To honor 30 years of space shuttle flights on 135 missions, the Empire State Building will glow Red, White and Blue throughout the night Wednesday as Atlantis prepares to return home ending the last ever shuttle flight. The ESB lighting schedule can be viewed at http://www.esbnyc.com/.
The next status report will be issued at the end of the crew's day or earlier if warranted. Atlantis' crew is scheduled to go to sleep just before 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
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