Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Atlantis Nears Sunday Ferry Flight to KSC

Servicing Atlantis on Tuesday at Dryden. NASA images

Technicians at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility in California continue to prepare the space shuttle Atlantis for her cross country flight a top a modified Boeing 747 for her return to America's Spaceport.

In a statement released today, Dryden officials stated, "managers are targeting lift operations to mount Atlantis on the modified 747 carrier aircraft on Saturday, and following a Flight Readiness Review the same day, are looking toward ferry flight departure just before sunrise Sunday morning at the earliest."

Atlantis is currently hoisted and level a few feet up in the huge steel cage known as the mate - demate device which will later lift Atlantis higher so that a Boeing 747 can be rolled underneath for attachment. There are three attachment points which Atlantis will use to mate to the 747 - the same attachment points used to mate with her external fuel tank.

On Thursday, technicians, wearing protective suits, will drain several toxic fluids from the orbiter's systems that could prove hazardous to unprotected personnel, Dryden officials commented today. They will also attach the white tail cone cover which will assist in making Atlantis more aerodynamic during the return flight to the Kennedy Space Center.

Shuttle Management at Dryden feel that the Boeing 747 with Atlantis a top, could depart California as early as Sunday morning. The trip will take two days.

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