Its radar peered beneath Venus' thick clouds and eventually mapped 98 percent of the hot planet's surface. STS marked the beginning of a flurry of satellite and classified payload launches for the orbiter. Astronauts had to do an emergency spacewalk to fix a high-gain antenna that refused to deploy. Once that was fixed, the observatory successfully watched supernovas and neutron stars for nine years.
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In the mids, Atlantis' focus changed again. NASA and Russia had brokered an agreement for American astronauts to stay aboard the Mir space station, which would give both sides experience in working together in space ahead of the planned International Space Station. The shuttle flew seven times in a row to the orbiting science platform, ferrying astronauts back and forth.
STS lifted off on June 27, , to usher in several historic moments. The flight was the first shuttle mission to head to the Mir space station. When some of the crew swapped places to head back home, Atlantis also became the first shuttle to see its astronaut manifest change in space.
Also, the mission marked the th human spaceflight launch from Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis and Mir, when hooked together, formed the largest spacecraft orbiting Earth, at the time. The space station and space shuttle together weighed about tons, or almost half a million pounds. While on board, the joint U.
Last Shuttle Flight, First Alien Contact Part 1 by J. Jack Bergeron
The shuttle flew again to the station in November on mission STS Among the astronauts on board was Chris Hadfield, the first and only Canadian to make it to the Mir space station. Atlantis also returned American Jerry Linenger to Earth after he had a challenging stay aboard Mir, which included a fire aboard the station as well as the need to do ongoing repairs on the aging facility. The fire, NASA later wrote, " altered the whole nature of his mission " and prompted a safety investigation by the agency.
Missions to Mir continued through , but Atlantis was taken off the roster for about three years to do some upgrades. The orbiter had two upgrades done before , which included improving the plumbing and electricity for extended stays in space, putting in an airlock for the International Space Station, and upgrading Atlantis to a "glass cockpit" that included more advanced electronics. Atlantis leapt into station work once again when it returned to flight on STS The orbiter blasted off for the station on May 19, , and became the third mission to do work there.
Astronauts transferred more than a ton of supplies and did spacewalks to work on two cranes outside of the station. In the next three years, Atlantis crews hooked up cables between the Zarya and Zvedza modules, installed the U. In , shuttle flights went on hiatus again after the Columbia shuttle broke up during re-entry. Atlantis flew again on STS, which had the most unique delay of the shuttle program. When an updated weather forecast came in showing that Cape Canaveral was in no danger, NASA brought the shuttle back to the pad while it was still on the road to the VAB.
Last Shuttle Flight, First Alien Contact - Part 1
This was the only time a shuttle reversed course like this. In its last few missions to the station, Atlantis continued hauling heavy equipment such as the Columbus science laboratory and some truss segments. It flew the very last shuttle mission , STS, touching down safely on July 21, On that mission, Atlantis brought the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module into space, as well as a bunch of spare parts.
Appropriately for the workhorse of the shuttle fleet, Atlantis remains in the city where so many shuttle workers helped prepare her for flights into space. Both shuttle missions are bound to the International Space Station, where their astronaut crews will deliver new experiments, equipment and supplies.
The space shuttle Discovery is schedule to launch Nov.