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domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2009

STS-129: Supplying the Station

NARRATOR: Space shuttle Atlantis pierced a bright-blue Florida sky over NASA's Kennedy Space Center for an on-time launch on Nov. 16, 2009, beginning the fifth and final shuttle mission of the year.

The liftoff also was the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station and Atlantis' 31st flight overall.

Atlantis, with six crew members aboard, played catch-up with the orbiting laboratory during the first two flight days as the crew conducted the shuttle's exterior inspection.

On Nov. 18, Commander Charlie Hobaugh carefully guided the shuttle toward a successful docking to the space station's Harmony module as the two orbited 225 miles above Earth.

The arrival brought together a combined crew of 12 as the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened.

The shuttle carried 14 tons of supplies and spare parts for the station's electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, communications and robotics systems.

In addition, station Flight Engineer Nicole Stott would catch a ride back to Earth after 91 days in space becoming the last station crew member to ride aboard a shuttle.

The heart of the mission's work was accomplished in three spacewalks during the seven days of docked operations.

First up were spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher, with Barry Wilmore and Leland Melvin supporting them with the station's robotic arm.

During their six-hour, 37-minute spacewalk, the duo completed a number of tasks, including antenna installation and lubrication of the Japanese robotic arm.

The second spacewalk of the mission teamed Foreman with Randy Bresnik.

The six-hour, eight-minute outing included not only scheduled tasks such as deployment of a spare parts payload attachment system on the upper part of the Starboard 3 Truss but some additional get-ahead work as well.

Bresnik and Satcher conducted the third and final spacewalk in five hours and 42 minutes.

The spacewalk's most lengthy task was the installation of a 6.2-foot-long, 1,240-pound high-pressure oxygen tank that Melvin and Wilmore maneuvered using the station’s robotic arm.

After a final day of docked operations, the two spacecraft parted ways, and the Atlantis crew conducted a final inspection in preparation for the homecoming trip back to Earth.

Once again, the Florida sun shined on the Atlantis astronauts as they bookended their mission with an on-time landing at Kennedy.

Having traveled more than 4.5 million miles during 171 orbits of Earth, touchdown came on Nov. 27, ending the successful 11-day mission.

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