Today, at 14:44:23 GMT, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on runway 33 of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), 10 days, 19 hours, 16 minutes, and 13 seconds after the lift of on November 16 at 19:28:10 GMT, ending a flawless mission.
At 10:52 GMT, STS-129 entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney and his entry team of flight controllers gave Atlatis a “go” to close the payload bay doors. The crew members suited up in their launch and entry suits at 12:14 GMT and strapped into their seats at 12:37 GMT. At 13:18 GMT the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM), astronaut Chris Ferguson (STS-115, STS-126), radioed Atlantis Commander Charlie Hobaugh that Atlantis was to “go” for the de-orbit burn.
Flying upside down and backwards more than 300 km above the Indian Ocean just west of Indonesia, the crew executed the deorbit burn lasting 2 minutes and 47 seconds with the Time of Ignition (TIG) at at 13:37:10 GMT, slowing the orbiter down by about 340 km/h. The orbiter encountered the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere at around 14:12 GMT, marking the beginning of the entry interface (EI). At the time of EI, the shuttle was flying at Mach 25 with its nose elevated 40 degrees at of about 120km over the south Pacific ocean.
During the STS-129 mission’s (ISS assembly flight ULF3) 3 extra-vehicular activities (EVA’s), Atlantis crew installed the S-band Antenna Sub-Assembly (SASA), the GATOR (Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing) bracket to the Columbus laboratory, High Pressure Gas Tank (HPGT) on the Quest airlock, the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 2 (ELC-2), deployed the S3 outboard Payload Attachment System, relocated the Floating Potential Measurement Unit, removed a pair of micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) shields from outside the airlock and strapped them to the External Stowage Platform #2, and shut down and packed the failed Urine Processor Assembly/Distillation Assembly (UPA DA).
EVA 3 marked the 230th conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 136th in support of Space Station assembly and maintenance, totaling 849 hours, 18 minutes and the 108th spacewalk out of the space station, totaling 662 hours, 3 minutes.
Atlantis brought home Expedition 20 and 21 Flight engineer Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole) (item number 914), who has become last of the shuttle rotating expedition crew members (ShRECs). She spent 87 days aboard the International Space Station and 91 days in space, which was apparently close enough to earn her NASA’s “100 Days In Space” patch, designed by astronaut Andy Thomas in 2004.
Tuesday, at 1500 GMT, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne handed over command of the station to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) in the. De Winne and Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are scheduled to leave the station for return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule on November 30.
The next scheduled space shuttle mission is the STS-130 (ISS assembly flight 20A), targeted to launch on February 4, 2010 at 10:52 GMT, will be the 161st American manned space flight, the 32nd shuttle mission to the ISS and the 24th flight of the space shuttle Endeavour. The primary payloads are the Tranquility module and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the station.