The team of flight controllers that led the Atlantis crew through the bulk of its work has just ended its shift today, their last during a shuttle mission and for some the last of their careers.
"It's the very last MCC shift for virtually all of us here," said Steve Robinson, an astronaut communicating with the Atlantis crew from the shuttle Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center. "We've got lots of words we'd love to say and we'll save them until you're safely back home. We'll just say we're proud of you, we're proud of NASA, we're proud of our nation. And safe travels. We’ll see you back home."
"That was great, Stevie Ray, thanks so much," said Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson. "You know, when you walk out the door of the MCC there, turn around and make a memory."
"Safe flight home, Atlantis," Robinson concluded.
The Orbit 1 flight control team led by Kwatsi Alibaruho handed off to Rick LaBrode's Orbit 2 team. Tony Ceccacci will take over from Alibaruho late tonight to lead Atlantis to the shuttle program's final landing, planned at 5:56 a.m. EDT Thursday.
NASA says early weather forecasts are favorable for the pre-dawn landing.