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Space Shuttle Atlantis Astronauts Land at Kennedy Space Center

6:04 PM, Jul 4, 2011   |    comments
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MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. -- The four astronauts who will take the final shuttle into space on Friday have arrived at Kennedy Space Center and are continuing their preparations for the historic launch.

"It's like saying goodbye to an old friend," said Cmdr. Chris Ferguson, who is taking his third spaceflight on Atlantis.

The astronauts will spend their final four nights on earth getting used to the odd sleep patterns that are part of living in space.

"As part of the quarantine process, they use this time to start sleep shifting," said Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters, spokesperson for the NASA shuttle astronaut program.

The four made the two-and-a-half-hour flight by jet from Houston Monday, arriving at Kennedy around 2:45 p.m.

"You've probably heard the stories of sleeping in dark rooms or very bright rooms," Lemasters said. That process helps them adjust to the lack of an earth-like day and night in space.

Ferguson will fly with Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim, also a mission specialist.

Lemasters said the final shuttle mission will be bringing a last load of supplies and repair parts to the International Space Station.

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