The Shuttle Atlantis, carrying seven astronauts including Jerry
Linenger, glided to a delayed, but smooth landing this morning at the
Kennedy Space Center to wrap the sixth docking mission to the Russian
Mir Space Station and the delivery of astronautMike Foale for the
start of his four month tour of duty.
It was the eighth straight Shuttle landing at the Florida spaceport.
After passing up the first landing opportunity of the day because of
clouds over KSC, Commander Charlie Precourt and Pilot Eileen Collins
guided Atlantis to a textbook touchdown at 8:28 a.m. Central time on
runway 33 to wrap up a 3.6 million mile mission to bring Linenger
home after 132 days in space. Linenger's voyage, which began with his
launch to the Mir in January, was the second longest single
spaceflight in U.S. history.
Thick clouds prevented Atlantis from coming home on the first chance
for landing, but the skies cleared in time one orbit later, and
Precourt fired the ship's braking rockets, enabling Atlantis to drop
out of orbit for its high speed return to Earth. Atlantis passed over
the Northwest U.S., the Plains states and the Southeast before
entering Florida air space for its homecoming.
The astronauts were scheduled to return to their crew quarters about
an hour after landing, where Linenger was to begin extensive medical
tests as part of his post-flight rehabilitation to readapt to the
effects of gravity following his long stint in orbit.