Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Shuttle Atlantis lands in Florida


Space shuttle Atlantis lands in Florida

The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis has landed in Florida ending their 11-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Atlantis touched down under sunny skies at the Kennedy Space Center at about 1444 GMT.

During the mission, astronauts equipped the ISS with nearly 14,000kg (30,000lbs) of spare parts.

Five more shuttle flights are planned before the fleet's retirement in 2010.

"We got a lot accomplished," Atlantis' commander Charlie Hobaugh told ABC News after the astronauts finished a Thanksgiving Day meal that included pre-packaged smoked turkey and cornbread dressing.

"It was a fantastic mission," he added.

The astronauts took up pump modules, gas tanks, two control moment gyroscopes and components for the space station's robotic arm.

Nasa wants to stock the station with as many of these as possible before the three shuttles retire. None of the other visiting spacecraft is big enough to carry such large pieces into orbit.

ISS (Nasa)
The ISS is being stocked up with larger spare parts prior to shuttle retirement

The astronauts also prepared power, cooling and airway connections on the ISS for the arrival of the final US space station module, Tranquility, which is scheduled to be launched on a shuttle flight in February.

In addition, Atlantis returned with a broken piece of the station's water-recycling unit.

The unit converts the astronauts' urine into drinking water. Engineers will try to fix the broken part so that it can be returned on the next shuttle flight.

And travelling back to Earth on Atlantis was Nicole Stott, who has been living at the space station for nearly three months.

It will be the last time a shuttle is used to rotate an ISS crew-member.

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