Atlantis Heads Home

13-day mission concludes; rain may delay landing in Florida
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2007 7:10 PM CDT
Atlantis Heads Home
In this image from NASA TV the crew of the international space station and the Atlantis shuttle crew prepare to say farewell Monday, June 18, 2007. In front are space station commander and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, Astronaut Sunita Williams and shuttle commander Frederick Sturckow. (AP Photo/NASA...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station today and set out on the final leg of its 13-day mission. The seven astronauts' final preparations for landing included making sure the craft's heat shield was ready to re-enter the atmosphere before landing Thursday—or later if the weather doesn't cooperate—at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Rain in the forecast could postpone the conclusion of the mission, during which the astronauts installed a new truss segment and power-generating solar arrays in the ISS. The flight director said the crew left the station in "very, very good shape." Astronaut Sunita Williams headed back to Earth after 191 days in space, a record for a woman. (Read more space stories.)

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