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Space shuttle Atlantis lands in Florida


Space shuttle Atlantis lands on runway 33 at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility concluding the STS-129 mission. Image Credit: NASA Jack Pfaller

NEW DELHI (BNS): Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts have returned to Earth safely after completing an 11-day journey.

The space shuttle landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday at 9:44 a.m. EST.

Atlantis flew 171 orbits around Earth and traveled 4,490,138 miles since its Nov. 16 launch, according to a NASA statement.

The STS-129 mission included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the International Space Station's truss, or backbone. The platforms hold large spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired.

The shuttle crew delivered about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. The shuttle left the space station 86 percent complete, weighing 759,222 pounds.

Astronaut Nicole Stott returned to Earth after 91 days in space. She had spent 87 days aboard the space station and 80 days as an Expedition 20/21 flight engineer. She is the last astronaut who will be transported to or from the space station by the space shuttle.

STS-129 was the 129th space shuttle mission, the 31st for Atlantis and the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station. It was the fifth and final flight of 2009.

Russia will take over supplying the international space station.




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