From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - The final day of the final space shuttle mission began at 8:29 p.m. with an iconic final wakeup song.
Kate Smith's rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" woke Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. But unlike most wakeup songs, which are played in honor of a particular crew member, this one was dedicated to not only the entire crew, but also all "the men and women who put their heart and soul into the shuttle program for all these years," as Capcom Shannon Lucid told the crew.
Ferguson said it was an appropriate song for their last day in space.
"Thank you, America, for supporting this program," he said. "We'll see you on the ground here in a few short hours, hopefully."
Preparations are now underway for Atlantis' 33rd and final landing, scheduled for 4:56 a.m., just before dawn in Florida. The teams here on the ground will spend the intervening time taking a close look at weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which are forecast to be favorable, before giving the crew a go or no-go to perform a deorbit burn at 3:49 a.m. to put Atlantis on the path home.
If, for any reason, the first opportunity can't be taken, a second opportunity would allow Atlantis to land in Florida at 6:32 a.m. To make that touchdown time, the crew would perform a deorbit burn at 5:25 a.m. Additional opportunities are also available on Friday morning.
Assuming Atlantis does land on its first opportunity today, it will be the 19th night landing at Kennedy Space Center, and the 78th landing there at any time of the day. There have been 54 landings at Edwards Air Force Base in California over the course of the program, and one at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, for a total - including today's scheduled landing - of 133 space shuttle landings in 30 years.
The next status report will be issued after landing or at the end of the crew's day if landing is waved off.
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