Monday, October 19, 2009

Atlantis' launch delayed due to Ares 1-X, Atlas

A series of events in the final days of October has forced NASA to delay November's launch of the next space shuttle flight as it accommodates two unmanned rocket launches from Cape Canaveral.

According to NASA spokesperson Kyle Herring at the Johnson Space Center, "Ares is priority". Herring today broke down with this reporter most of what the next few weeks will look like at Cape Canaveral.

The main cause in delaying shuttle Atlantis Nov. 12 mission to the International Space Station is Tuesday morning's roll out of the Ares 1-X out to launch pad 39-B. Due to the Ares move, NASA today scrubbed the the next two days of training sessions by the crew out at the adjacent pad 39-A. Atlantis' crew will return to the Space Coast in early November to perform the practice countdown simulation in which they suit up and board the shuttle.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V has the eastern test range for a midnight launch on November 14th. NASA had spent the last two weeks battling for a Nov. 12 & 13 launch attempts, but Atlas' launch customer held firm and would not stand down to NASA.

Launch of Atlantis has been retargeted for 2:28 pm EST on November 16th. However, that date will not be made official until a managers meeting on Oct. 28. Also, a Delta IV is on the range to launch on the evening of Nov. 18. If Delta IV launches on time, then NASA will have only one launch day in which to fly Atlantis -- Nov. 20 -- before a sun angle beta cutout for Station forces a delay until Dec. 6.

Commanded by Charles Hobaugh, Atlantis' crew of six includes pilot Barry E. Wilmore and mission specialists Robert L. Satcher, Mike Foreman, Randy BResnik and Leland Melvin.

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