Space shuttle Atlantis descended to a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, concluding a successful assembly mission to the International Space Station. With Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Lee Archambault at the controls, Atlantis landed at 3:49 p.m. EDT.
The STS-117 crew began its mission June 8 and arrived at the station June 10. They quickly began work to install the Starboard 3 and 4 (S3/S4) truss structure to the outpost and retracted a set of arrays on the Port 6 (P6) truss. The (S3/S4) contains a new set of solar arrays that increases station power-generation capabilities. The P6 will be relocated during a future assembly mission.
Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester, John “Danny” Olivas, Jim Reilly and Steven Swanson conducted a total of four spacewalks to activate the S3/S4 and to retract the P6 arrays. During the third spacewalk, Olivas repaired an out of position thermal blanket on the left orbital maneuvering system pod.
Landing also marked the end of a record-setting spaceflight by Mission Specialist Suni Williams. She broke the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman early in the morning June 16.
Williams’ journey began in December with the launch of STS-116. She lived on the space station for six months before switching places on the STS-117 crew with Clayton Anderson, who is now a flight engineer on the station. When Atlantis landed, she had accumulated 194 days, 18 hours and 58 minutes during her spaceflight.
STS-117 is the 118th shuttle mission and 21st mission to visit the space station. The next mission, STS-118, is slated to launch in August.