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The darkened Kennedy Space Center runway is home sweet home for the Atlantis astronauts.Photo Credit/NASA TVThe Atlantis astronauts are headed back to Earth.Commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley ignited the orbiter's twin orbiter maneuvering engines for 3 minutes, 16 seconds at 4:49 a.m., EDT, slowing the orbiter's velocity enough to begin the homeward journey.The landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center is scheduled for 5:56 a.m., EDT, or about 42 minutes before sunrise.The weather outlook calls for clear skies and light winds – so good the Atlantis crew got an early “go” from Mission Control for the de-orbit burn.Atlantis will dip into the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, nearly 5,100 miles from the Florida shuttle port.The return of Ferguson, Hurley, Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim will mark the end of NASA's three-decade-long shuttle program after 135 flights.
os 99, NASA, space shuttle, International Space Station
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