Four astronauts aboard Atlantis are scheduled to land in predawn darkness at Kennedy Space Center today, bringing the 135th shuttle flight and three decades of shuttle operations to a close.
Near-perfect weather conditions are forecast for the planned 5:56 a.m. landing, which is scheduled about 40 minutes before sunrise. You can keep track of the action here in The Flame Trench with our interactive Cover-It-Live blog and live NASA TV on the right side of the page. Veteran space reporters Mark Decotis, James Dean and I will be your hosts beginning about 1:45 a.m.
Atlantis and its astronauts aim to land on the 200th orbit of this final resupply run to the International Space Station, a mission that enabled the delivery to the outpost of a year's worth of supplies. The Raffaello cargo carrier in the shuttle's payload bay is about 96 percent full of surplus station gear and equipment, and trash, that will be returned to Earth.
Key times for the coming day:
++ 2:09 AM: Payload bay doors closed.
++ 4:29 AM: Mission Control "Go/No-Go" decision on deorbit burn.
++ 4:49 p.m.: Twin maneuvering engines fired for deorbit burn.
++ 5:24 a.m.: Atmospheric reentry.
++ 5:56 a.m.: Landing.
Join us for live coverage of the last shuttle landing.