Atlantis Begins Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver

At 10:52 a.m. EST, space shuttle Atlantis began the nine-minute R-Bar pitch maneuver, also known as the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or "backflip." With Commander Charlie Hobaugh at the controls, Atlantis is rotating backwards to enable space station astronauts Jeffrey Williams and Nicole Stott to take high resolution pictures of the shuttle heat shield with 800 millimeter and 400 millimeter lenses, respectively. The images will be analyzed by experts and managers in Mission Control to search for any damage incurred during Atlantis' launch and ascent.