Print 12 comment(s) - last by eye smite.. on Feb 18 at 5:59 PM

Shuttle Atlantis heads home after successful mission to install Columbus laboratory on ISS

The space shuttle Atlantis left the International Space Station (ISS) to begin its journey back home. Atlantis departed the ISS today and is scheduled to touch down at Kennedy space Center Wednesday morning.

Reuters reports that as Atlantis was cleared to undock Atlantis commander Stephen Frick radioed ISS commander Peggy Whitson to say, “We just want to thank you for being a great host. We had a great time. We learned a lot. Thanks very much.” Whitson replied, “It's a great new room you added on. Get home safe and thanks."

The goal of this mission for the crew of Atlantis was to deliver and install the new Columbus laboratory from Europe. The delivery and installation of the Columbus was delayed for six years partly because of the loss of the shuttle Columbia over Texas in 2003.

The crew of Atlantis completed three spacewalks during the mission. One of the spacewalks was to install a new tank of nitrogen gas to pressurize the stations ammonia cooling lines as well as hooking up two science experiments to the stations exterior reports Reuters.

ISS flight engineer Dan Tani hopped a ride back to earth on the Atlantis to return to Earth after is mission was extended from December to February due to a fuel line sensor problem on the Atlantis. Frenchman Leopold Eyharts took over the ISS engineer post and is slated to return on the Endeavour in March of 2008.

The space shuttle Atlantis was the first shuttle launched in 2007 and was also the first shuttle launched in 2008.

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By ajfink on 2/18/2008 12:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the return of Atlantis was stated as one of the prerequisites for the missile launch to destroy the disabled spy satellite with the decaying orbit. Should be a good show.

Russia is claiming the satellite is just an excuse for American posturing in regards to space weapons and the missile defense shield, and one can see the validity of their argument.

That aside, the addition of the Columbia module is a great boon to the ISS, as was many parts of this mission. GG, space agencies.

RE: Satellite
By ajfink on 2/18/2008 12:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
As were many parts. There's my overpriced English degree in progress for you.

RE: Satellite
By Polynikes on 2/18/2008 12:56:40 PM , Rating: 3
Or is it your overpriced English degree in action? :)

RE: Satellite
By Rugar on 2/18/2008 1:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
Can you blame Russia and China for being upset at what is essentially a satellite interceptor test on the part of the US? Despite any other positive benefits derived from shooting down the satellite, there is no doubt that this is a field test of an intercept system. We (the US) complained when the Chinese did exactly the same thing at the first of last year. It’s all diplomatic posturing.

RE: Satellite
By soydios on 2/18/2008 1:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
except ours was announced weeks in advance.

RE: Satellite
By ajfink on 2/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Satellite
By Master Kenobi on 2/18/2008 2:32:33 PM , Rating: 4
The missile defense system is really just America waving it's big stick (if you catch the dual meaning) around.

It's more to show the world that the balance of power is shifting and the U.S. is to be taken seriously since we have the capability to hit you, and you may or may not have the capability to hit back. It's also meant to deter people who are persuing nuclear missiles into recognizing that its already an obsolete concept before they get them.

Sometimes I'd rather see my tax dollars going into something a little more constructive.

Hmmm, this seems pretty constructive. Were building an anti-missile and anti-satellite system that can further solidify U.S. aerospace dominance into the 21st century. I fail to see a problem with this. The only reason people don't generally go to war with the U.S. on an open playing field is because they will lose and they know it. It's good to "flex" our muscle every few years to remind everyone exactly what we can do. Maybe the next step is to construct a huge ion cannon in orbit for use in surgical strikes in hot zones. No longer having to wait for aircraft or missiles to reach their destination, we could instead fire from orbit within a few minutes to eliminate enemy concentrations. Excellent strategic weapon for the aresenal.

RE: Satellite
By ajfink on 2/18/2008 3:48:10 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure if you've had much international relations theory, but it really spits in the face of most modern power-balancing thought. I'm not entirely against it, but it really is a prospect that would be brought forth by a typically Neorealist train of thought - which is also fairly antiquated.

<Insert 9/11 Report condemnation of hard-line realist policy here>

RE: Satellite
By eye smite on 2/18/2008 5:59:57 PM , Rating: 3
What does it matter if any other country gets upset or not? America will do as it's historically done and do what we want on the matter. The satellite's ours, the missile's ours.

I think it's commendable that our nations military is being so environmentality conscious and showing a real global responsibility to cleaning up the environment proactively............<---------------sarcasm.

RE: Satellite
By NickWV on 2/18/2008 1:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
its a bit different in this case, as the Chinese shot down a satellite in a stable orbit and there was pretty much no need to do it except to say, "hey world, look what we can do..." In this particular case the United States has a valid (or so they say) reason to want to blow it out of the sky.

Furthermore, everything I have read gives the impression that the sat. will still come down, just in bigger chunks that will (hopefully) completely burn up on re-entry. The Chinese blew up their sat. and a lot of the crap is still up there.

While I can see it looking like a staged test from the outside, there are a lot easier and less expensive ways to blow sh*t up in orbit.

RE: Satellite
By ajfink on 2/18/2008 2:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
What cheaper way is there to blow up a satellite in orbit?

RE: Satellite
By shiner on 2/18/2008 2:16:21 PM , Rating: 4
Sharks with frickin "laser" beams on their head.

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