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

by Nancy Atkinson on July 21, 2011

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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.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Anonymous July 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM

This is awesome

David Syzdek July 21, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Way cool.

Torbjörn Larsson July 21, 2011 at 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 at 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 at 4:46 PM

What do you mean with off?

Ints Kesans July 25, 2011 at 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 at 6:03 PM

Because it is going down, not up.

Anonymous July 25, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Because it is going down, not up.

Joseph Piatt July 25, 2011 at 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.

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