Last space shuttle checked for Thurs. landing

July 20, 2011 - 3:45 AM
Space Shuttle

A photo made from NASA television shows the Atlantis as it passes under a solar panel on the Internatoinal Space Station after undocking Tuesday July 19, 2011, Atlantis is the last Space Shuttle that will go to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Atlantis has checked out perfectly for NASA's last space shuttle landing ever.

The four astronauts tested Atlantis' flight systems Wednesday, their last full day in orbit. The shuttle and its crew are aiming for a touchdown at 5:56 a.m. Thursday — just before dawn. Excellent weather is forecast in Florida.

As their 13-day flight neared an end, the crew deployed a satellite. With the push of a button, they ejected a little eight-pound experiment from a can in Atlantis' payload bay. The mini-satellite is covered with experimental solar cells. Mission Control congratulated the crew for releasing the 180th and final payload of the 30-year shuttle era.

Astronaut Rex Walheim read a poem to mark the occasion.