On June 8, 2007, the shuttle orbiter Atlantis lifted off for the STS-117 mission to the International Space Station. It was the 21st mission to send a shuttle to the station.
The nearly 14-day flight was an assembly mission. The crew conducted four spacewalks to install and activate the second and third starboard truss segments (S3 and S4), “retract the P6 solar array and repair and out-of-position thermal blanket.”
Following a 5.8 million mile mission, the flight ended with the safe return of the STS-117 crew aboard Atlantis, which touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in California on June 22, 2007.
Learn more about the STS-117 mission with these five fast facts!
1. The launch of STS-117 was delayed due to hail that damaged the shuttle orbiter.
The mission was delayed in February due to hail damage sustained to tiles and the external tank of the shuttle orbiter Atlantis. A decision was made to push the mission back and make repairs.
2. NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Clayton Anderson traded places onboard the ISS.
The launch crew of STS-117 included James Reilly II, Steven Swanson, Patrick Forrester, John “Danny” Olivas, Rick Sturckow (mission commander), Lee Archambault (pilot) and Clayton Anderson. Anderson would later join the Expedition 15/16 crew, swapping out with then Expedition 15 Flight Engineer on station, Sunita “Suni” Williams, who returned with the STS-117 crew aboard Atlantis.
3. The mission was Williams’ first spaceflight and she set a record.
During her first spaceflight, Williams broke the previous spaceflight record for longest spaceflight by a woman (at 194 days, 18 hours, 58 minutes), and set the record for the most hours outside a spacecraft by a woman, after she had completed four spacewalks during Expedition 14.
4. STS-117 was the longest mission for Atlantis.
The nearly 14-day mission was not originally scheduled to last that long. However, the crew’s return home was postponed due to bad weather. In total, the mission lasted 13 days, 20 hours, and 12 minutes.
5. STS-117 marked the 250th orbital human spaceflight.
Talk about an impressive milestone! STS-117 launched into history as it rocketed into the 250th orbital human spaceflight.