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Amazing Image: ISS Crew Captures Shuttle Atlantis’ Last Brilliant Trip Through the Atmosphere

Atlantis' fiery final return home, as seen by the crew of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA_Johnson Twitter feed.

Simply incredible. Atlantis on its way home taken by the Expedition 28 crew of the space station. Via the NASA_Johnson Twitpic page.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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  • Anonymous July 21, 2011, 6:56 PM

    This is awesome

  • David Syzdek July 21, 2011, 8:03 PM

    Way cool.

  • Torbjörn Larsson July 21, 2011, 11:34 PM

    If you catch a firefly
    and keep it in a jar
    You may find that
    you have lost
    A tiny star.

    If you let it go then,
    back into the night,
    You may see it
    once again
    Star bright.

    [Lilian Moore]

  • Ints Kesans July 22, 2011, 6:50 AM

    I am confused. Trajectory of Atlantis seems to be a bit off the ISS flight path. Shouldn’t it look more towards ISS?

    • Anonymous July 22, 2011, 4:46 PM

      What do you mean with off?

      • Ints Kesans July 25, 2011, 6:36 AM

        I mean, there is very short launch window, during which station’s flight path is directly over the launch pad. Within few degrees, I guess. Once cleared the tower, shuttle performs a roll maneuver. At that point, just about 20 seconds after launch, shuttle is already in the plane of orbit and it can’t be changed much. The only thing done from here is acceleration, so perigee of that particular orbit move out of center of Earth. In that very nice picture I see, that trajectory of Atlantis is not directly towards station. Why so?

        • Anonymous July 25, 2011, 6:03 PM

          Because it is going down, not up.

        • Anonymous July 25, 2011, 6:03 PM

          Because it is going down, not up.

    • Joseph Piatt July 25, 2011, 1:13 AM

      IIRC, their trajectory is rather straight-line once they hit atmosphere, so they have to begin their approach already aligned with the runway.