Atlantis set to land Wednesday morning at 08:48 EDT.

By Phil Plait | May 25, 2010 12:00 pm

atlantis_issThe Space Shuttle Atlantis is due to land — for the last time — at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday morning at 08:48 Eastern time (12:48 UT). If she gets waved off, the next landing opportunity is at 10:22 EDT (14:22 UT). If that doesn’t happen, it’ll be Thursday at 09:13 and 10:48 (and more chances on Friday if needed as well).

This is it for Atlantis. It’ll be fixed up and kept active in case it’s needed for a rescue mission for Discovery in September, but if not, that’s the last flight. You can watch the landing live on NASA TV, follow NASA on Twitter, and get more info at the NASA shuttle website.

Image credit: NASA

MORE ABOUT: Atlantis, Space Shuttle

Comments (19)

  1. Adam English

    I’m only 21 so I am not old enough to remember the older missions, and I’m not educated enough in the other types of vehicles we can use but this is a bit sad. I have always pictured the shuttle as the symbol of NASA and space exploration.

  2. Tom

    There are no other types of vehicles to use. Once the shuttle is done, we are Soyuz hitch-hikers.
    I’ve always considered the Saturn V the symbol of NASA exploration. That ship went somewhere.
    Not that I don’t like the shuttle, but it’s just wrong not to have a replacement. :-(

  3. Mchl

    Don’t be so gloomy Tom. Hopefully Falcon 9 will successfully launch the day after tomorrow, and Dragon proves it’s worth. USA/NASA might have quite sweet space vehicle really soon.

    I am aware, that neither Falcon nor Dragon are human rated at this time, and several months of development are required for that, but I’am convinced SpaceX can do this. Now, if only they actually Launch the damn thing… they’ve been postponing it so many times now… 😉

  4. Adam English

    Well aren’t we letting independent companies foot the costs of R&D of new vehicles so we can use more of the budget for actual science in space? I think Phil had said at one point we are going to have to rely on someone else anyway since it takes so long to develop a new space vehicle. I guess we had the Ares rocket but that wasn’t a solution that would work. I don’t really know much about why these other options aren’t good enough. I personally thought the space shuttle was doing a good job, but I’m no rocket scientist :)

  5. gK

    What does landing/take off opportunities depend on? Im sure weather is a huge factor but what other factors dictate?

  6. DrFlimmer

    I’m all for a flawless mission, but in this case, I’d like to see a wave-off tomorrow and a landing on Thursday. The quite selfish reason is that I cannot see her landing tomorrow!

    Btw: Phil, I think the backup for Discovery in September is now Endeavour and Atlantis serves as a backup for Endeavour in November (or next year). But I’m not definitely sure about it….

  7. mike burkhart

    I still remeber the frist Space Shuttle launch I was in 6th grade and I was dissapointed when the launch was scrubed 2 days. I want to get off topic hear.If you always wanted to be a Astronaut (who has’nt) and own a Nintendo DS system ,then you want to get the game Space Camp .You get to: train as an Astronaut,land on the Moon and man a Moon base,walk and drive on the Moon ,collect moonrocks,process them for ore,manufacture parts, talk with robots including your own personal robot,make reparies,look thro a telescope on the base, get information on the space program from computers, launch probes to Saturn, defend the base form meteors and aliens and visit the Apollo 11 landing site (take that Moon landing hoax beleavers) . This game is very fun and for all who have an intrest in space and there kids.

  8. #1 Adam:
    “The shuttle as the symbol of NASA and space exploration”?????????
    You may be too young to remember it, but haven’t you even heard of Apollo???!!!

  9. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Neil Haggath :

    Adam probably “heard” of Apollo in about the same way as the ancient Babylonians. :-(

    Apollo was glory of the past; the shuttle was the pride of the present – and we had many dreams for the future some key elements of which have now apparently been killed off by Obama’s stupidity.

    @ 3. Mchl : I *so* hope and wish you are right & Tom and I are wrong.

    I grew up with the space shuttle – the very first Columbia mission was the first spacecraft I ever saw launched* and I remember thinking how this revolutionary new reusable spaceplane was going to *be* the future. We had so many expectations and hopes – and a manned landing on Mars was just twenty years away or so – back in 1980~ish. Just as it still is now. Sigh.

    I used to think I’d see people (& not just robots) return to the Moon and land on Mars and other solar system bodies in my lifetime. But after Obama’s (first) space policy announcement I’m not so sure and really fear I won’t. And I hate him for that. So disappointing, so short-sighted, such a stupid waste. :-(

    Have a safe return, farewell and thankyou Atlantis.

    I for one will miss you and the Shuttle era.

    Even if, in hindsight, it failed to live up to expectations and has ended as a bit of a dead end as far as space progress goes.

    (The Shuttle has, of course, still been a marvellous success and a masterpiece of engineering in many ways – but it hasn’t quite made spaceflight routine or been the start of a whole series of other spaceplanes as the path to the future. It reminds a lot of concorde. Such wonderful technology, such a beautiful futuristsic vision, yet so little following in its wake.)


    * Although it didn’t actually launch but a computer glitch caused the mission to be postponed but I remember staying up way past my bedtime as a kid just in absolute numinous awe of this incredible spaceplane that NASA had built and so full of hope at what it was going to achieve.

  10. Aerdrie S

    I watched the very first shuttle launch and hope to catch the last & complete the circle. I must admit to being very sad at the thought of no more shuttle missions. But it sure was one hell of a ride while it lasted!!!

  11. mike burkhart

    One more thing , if the Space Shuttle had launched in 1979 as it was scheduled to do, one of its early missions was to dock at Skylab with a power suaply and with rocket boosters to bost the space station into a higher orbit .Unfortenly the Space Shuttle did not launch untill 1981 2 years after Skylab crashed .I wonder what would have happened if that mission had happened ,Would we sill use Skylab?Would the International Space Station be bilt?

  12. Hey, it landed 5 minutes ago. Why no update yet? :-)

  13. Well, I’m old enough to remember Apollo, especially staying up late to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon. (And listening to the landing on the radio that afternoon, driving back from dropping my brother off at camp.)

    I also remember getting up early to watch the first Shuttle launch. (It looks so “strange” nowadays to see the painted-white external tank they used originally.)

    And Mike, why play a Space Camp video game on your DS, when you can go to Space Camp “for real”? My now-wife and I went to “space academy” (a version for adults) some 15 years ago, and had a great time. I see they still have programs for adults, as well as for parent/child.

  14. PsyberDave

    I went outside and heard two loud, thumping booms in the distance. It sounded like an explosion in the Everglades that I expected to hear about on the news. When I went back inside a minute later, the news was on and covering the shuttle landing. It clicked immediately. I had HEARD the space shuttle!!! HOLY HALEAKALA!!!!1!!1! I have chills! I am SO excited! GAH! I can’t stop using exclamation points!

  15. ^ Landing Pics

  16. mike burkhart

    Not all of us have the money to go to the real Space Camp. As for “what if Skylab survived” this is just my thoughts. I think Skylab would still be in orbit ,I think it would be upgraded by futher Shuttle missions.Also I think the Shuttle might not have the Spacelab module since Skylab was built to handle science in space ,NASA might have seen no need for module in the cargo bay of the Shuttle to do science .As for would the International Space Station be built,the main resion for the idea to build a space station in orbit was because Skylab crashed and the U.S. Had no space station (even thro the Russians had put up several called Salyat and one called Mir ) so would NASA see a resion to spend millons to build another space station? How ever because Skylab crashed we will never know the answers.

  17. Jon Hanford

    Watching this last mission of Atlantis reminds me of following the Apollo 15 mission many years ago: one down and two to go! :)

  18. Sparky

    Just wanted to point out that NASA’s current flight manifest has Discovery flying STS133 in September, and Endeavour with STS134 in November, so if Atlantis flies once more (rescue mission or otherwise) it will likely be in 2011.

    Now, the following was something I posted on Phil’s last blog about Atlantis, but it was pushed way down in the pile, so I have done a copypasta here:

    One point worth noting:

    Attached to the outside of the Rassvet module is an experiment airlock and a radiator (as well as a few other items) which will be transferred to the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, “Nauka”, when it launches in 2011 or 2012.

    When NASA first announced it’s plans to eventually deorbit ISS, Russia vowed to integrate certain parts of its segment into a new space station called OPSEK. The purpose of this station will be both science, and to potentially support manned deep-space exploration missions. It isn’t entirely clear which modules will go on to form OPSEK, but Nauka is sure to be one of them. (the other large components of the Russian segment, Zarya and Zvezda, are currently two of the oldest pieces of ISS, and therefore might be deemed too antiquated to be included into a “new” space station.)

    Thus, if the MLM does become the core module of OPSEK, it is possible that the parts that Atlantis just delivered MAY become the first pieces of the next space station to reach orbit. If that turns out to be the case, I can’t think of a better honor to send Atlantis out with.

  19. This is it for Atlantis. It’ll be fixed up and kept active in case it’s needed for a rescue mission for Discovery in September, but if not, that’s the last flight.

    As it’s turned out – not quite.

    There was still one last mission to go making this (STS-132, May 2010) the penultimate one.

    The very ultimate (final) Atlantis flight and final ever Space Shuttle flight has just concluded a day or so ago.

    Click on my name here for the BA’s post on how it really ended with STS-135 in July 2011.

    Thankyou Atlantis and NASA’s Space Shuttle teams for all the memories, all the science and the wonder you’ve provided everyone. :-)

    You will be missed. :-(


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