Space Shuttle Astronauts Prepare for One Last Trip Home

There's just one more day in orbit left for the four astronauts on space shuttle Atlantis, the last men and women ever to fly on a NASA shuttle.

Commander Chris Ferguson and his crew have worked steadily and successfully through the bulk of their 13-day mission. The astronauts departed the International Space Station yesterday (July 19), after delivering a huge load of backup hardware and supplies. [Photos: Shuttle Bids Farewell to Space Station]

Now Atlantis is packed to the brim with trash and other items to be brought back to Earth, and the astronauts are making their final preparations for a planned predawn landing on Thursday (July 21).

"The crew is doing great," LeRoy Cain, chair of Atlantis' mission management team, said in a briefing on Tuesday (July 19). "They’ve performed an outstanding mission. We're focused now on getting Atlantis and the crew back."

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