Welcome home Atlantis!
The landing 48 minutes before sunrise was a day later than planned because NASA ordered up more inspections of the spacecraft’s delicate skin to make sure it was safe to come home. The fear was that a mysterious piece of debris spotted floating nearby on Tuesday might have hit the spacecraft. Astronauts later saw other debris.
“We’ve seen a new standard in NASA vigilance,” said shuttle program manager Wayne Hale.
I for one like that they’re able to check and re-check the heat shield in flight, and so far that’s obviously worked out very well. I’m glad the crew’s home safe and sound.