NASA's Space Shuttle Scheduled To Return To Earth For Final Time Thursday

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July 19, 2011

Candrea Thomas
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Michael Curie
Headquarters, Washington 

Kyle Herring 
Johnson Space Center, Houston 



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The final flight of NASA's 30-year-old space 
shuttle program is scheduled to end on Thursday, July 21, when 
Atlantis and its STS-135 crew return to Earth. The landing at NASA's 
Kennedy Space Center in Florida marks the completion of a 13-day 
mission to supply the International Space Station for the 
post-shuttle era.

Thursday's Kennedy landing opportunities are at 5:56 a.m. and 7:32 
a.m. EDT. Atlantis' entry flight control team, led by Flight Director 
Tony Ceccacci, will evaluate weather conditions at the landing site 
before giving approval to Atlantis to return. If the shuttle is 
unable to come home Thursday, additional opportunities are available 
on Friday at Kennedy and at the backup landing site, Edwards Air 
Force Base in California. Recorded updates about landing are 
available at 321-867-2525.

Journalists are invited to cover news briefings and special events to 
commemorate the historic event. To cover landing at the Shuttle 
Landing Facility (SLF) runway, reporters must sign up at Kennedy's 
press site for transportation. NASA will accommodate as many news 
media representatives as possible, but the number is limited because 
of safety requirements.

At about 7:45 a.m., NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and STS-135 
Commander Chris Ferguson will make comments at the shuttle runway. 
The remarks will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the 
agency's website.

>From about 8 - 9 a.m. on Thursday, following the astronaut's departure 
from the shuttle runway, a limited number of journalists at the SLF 
will be allowed near Atlantis for a photo opportunity and comments 
from Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. Interested 
journalists must e-mail Allard Beutel at by 5 
p.m. Wednesday. Space is limited.

At 10 a.m., NASA officials will hold a briefing at Kennedy's press 
site to discuss Atlantis' STS-135 mission. The event will be 
broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency's website. The participants 
will be:
- Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, 
NASA Headquarters
- Bob Cabana, director, Kennedy Space Center
- Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager
- Mike Leinbach, space shuttle launch director

Also at about 10 a.m., Atlantis will be towed from the runway and 
parked outside Orbiter Processing Facility-2 (OPF-2) for several 
hours to give employees an opportunity to walk around and photograph 
the shuttle. Reporters interested in covering the move must sign up 
at the press site for transportation to the photo opportunity 
locations. These events will not be carried live on NASA TV.

At 11:45 a.m., Bolden and Cabana will host an employee appreciation 
event outside OPF-2. Journalists can cover the event from a 
designated media area near the main stage. News media representatives 
interested in covering the event must sign up at the press site for 
transportation. The event will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the 
agency's website.

At about noon, following opening comments at the employee event, the 
STS-135 crew is expected to participate in a post-landing news 
conference from the press site. The astronauts' availability is 
subject to change. Immediately after a 20-minute media 
question-and-answer session, the astronauts will go to the employee 
appreciation event to talk briefly to the work force. The events will 
be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency's website.

The Kennedy press site will open for shuttle Atlantis' landing at 8 
a.m. Wednesday and remain open until 6:30 p.m. Thursday. News media 
representatives approved for STS-135 mission badges can pick them up 
at NASA's Pass and Identification Building on State Road 3 on 
Wednesday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Thursday from 2 - 4 a.m. The last 
bus will depart from the press site for the SLF about one hour before 

If the shuttle landing is diverted to Edwards after Thursday, 
reporters should call the public affairs office at NASA's Dryden 
Flight Research Center at 661-276-3449 for access. Dryden has limited 
facilities available for previously accredited journalists.

If Atlantis lands Thursday, it will have spent 307 days in space and 
traveled nearly 126 million miles during its 33 flights. Atlantis 
launched on its first mission on Oct. 3, 1985. For the latest 
information about the STS-135 mission and accomplishments, visit: 

The NASA News Twitter feed is updated throughout the shuttle mission 
and landing. To follow, visit:

For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming 
video, visit: 

For more information about the space station and its crew, visit:  


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