Tuesday, 26 May 2009 17:07

NASA Crew Completes Historic Space Shuttle Mission Featured

Written by  Matt V. Phillips
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Space Shuttle Atlantis Takes Off at Cape Canaveral - Photo by Wayne CathelEDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA  -  "At last!" was the first quote appropriately spoken by Space Shuttle Commander Scott Altman during the crew press conference from the tarmac of Edwards Air Force base in California. He uttered these words about 4 hours after the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed safely at their alternate landing site after a successful Mission and extended stay in space.

Altman continued, "When we got to Florida (for the liftoff) I turned and said to everyone "At last" (since it took so long to get to that point). I didn't realize it was going to be so hard to get back to the Earth, landing here just felt great to everybody." Altman added "Again, I guess I say the same thing: At last we are back on the ground."

The planned 11-day mission ended up lasting 12 days, 21 hours, 37 minutes and 9 seconds due to poor weather conditions in the Cape Canaveral, FL area which forced NASA officials to wave off the probable landings in Florida on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, ultimately resulting in the decision to use the backup landing site in California.

This was the 53rd time that the Shuttle has had to use Edwards Air Force Base as a landing site, while 70 landings have occurred at the preferred site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and 1 landing at the other alternate U.S. landing site in White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico.

During a press conference held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate Ed Weiler said, "Now and only now can we declare this mission a total success ─ the astronauts are safely on the ground."Crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis - Photo by Matt V. Phillips

Weiler called NASA's Hubble Space Telescope "the great comeback story". He added, "The public continues to be captivated by the telescope's images of the universe and he hopes to see Hubble operate into its third decade of service."

During the Mission, the seven-person crew of "space surgeons" worked in complete harmony with their "patient", the Hubble Telescope and their ground support "surgical team" to complete all scheduled repairs during the 5 EVA's (extra vehicular activities - a.k.a. spacewalks). The challenges of years of planning and hundreds of hours of practice gave way to the exuberance of accomplishment as the hatch door closed after the last EVA on Monday, May 18, 2009 and the crew breathed a sigh of relief knowing that all of their ambitious goals had been reached.

If you were "obsessed" with the live NASA coverage like many Americans, the 2 things that you had to be impressed by was the attention to detail by every member of the NASA team and the incredibly positive nature of the collective teamwork extended by the entire NASA family.

This was a mission for the history books and as a nation; we could not be more proud that seven brave Americans returned to earth safely after having touched the edges of the universe and repaired an intricate scientific instrument, all the while traveling at 17,500 MPH, 350 miles above earth in a weightless environment.

So to the crew of STS-125 we would all like to say, "WELCOME HOME AND THANK YOU FOR A JOB WELL DONE!

Read 953 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:59

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