SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS

Space Shuttle Atlantis landing on track for Thursday

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Atlantis has checked out perfectly for NASA's last space shuttle landing ever.

(Photo: Associated Press)

The four astronauts tested Atlantis' flight systems Wednesday, their last full day in orbit. The shuttle and its crew are aiming for a touchdown at 5:56 a.m. Thursday — just before dawn. Excellent weather is forecast in Florida.

As their 13-day flight neared an end, the crew deployed a satellite. With the push of a button, they ejected a little eight-pound experiment from a can in Atlantis' payload bay. The mini-satellite is covered with experimental solar cells. Mission Control congratulated the crew for releasing the 180th and final payload of the 30-year shuttle era.

Astronaut Rex Walheim read a poem to mark the occasion.

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