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Elton John rouses Atlantis crew - with Rocket Man

'Nauts toil to empty station bins, unload deliveries

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The crew of space shuttle Atlantis were woken this morning by Elton John's Rocket Man, followed by a personal message from Britain's national musical treasure.

Sir Elton said: "Good morning, Atlantis, this is Elton John. We wish you much success on your mission. A huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."

Suitably encouraged, the combined Atlantis and International Space Station Expedition 28 crews will spend most of today continuing to shift boxes from the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module.

When it arrived aboard the shuttle, Raffaello was packed with "9,403 pounds [4.26 metric tonnes] of spare parts, spare equipment, and other supplies – including 2,677 pounds of food – that will sustain space station operations for a year".

Once that's unloaded, the module will be filled with 5,600 pounds [2.54 tonnes] of redundant ISS gear and waste for return to Earth aboard Atlantis.

NASA ground operatives, meanwhile, have been busy providing the traditional stats on the last ever spacewalk of the shuttle era, carried out yesterday by Expedition 28 members Mike Fossum and Ron Garan.

The agency explains: "It was the 249th spacewalk by US astronauts, the seventh for Fossum, totaling 48 hours and 32 minutes, and the fourth for Garan, totaling 27 hours and 3 minutes. It was the 160th spacewalk in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance, totaling 1009 hours, 9 minutes, and the 119th spacewalk out of station airlocks."

Fossum and Garan spent 6 hours and 31 minutes outside the orbiting outpost. During their excursion, they stowed a clapped-out ISS ammonia pump in Atlantis' cargo bay and installed the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) experiment.

NASA has the latest from Atlantis' final STS-135 mission here. ®

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