Saturday, October 10, 2009

Next Space Shuttle Mission prepares for Launch

The next space shuttle mission is stepping up preparations for launch with it's journey out to her seaside launch pad this week with lift-off only one month away.

Space shuttle Atlantis was moved over to the massive Vehicle Assembly Building last Tuesday to be hoisted up and connected to her rust colored external tank. However, as the yellow brackets attached to the mid-body sections of the orbiter raised it into a vertical position, the crane moving Atlantis stopped working forcing a delay in the mating operation.

The following day, the crane was back at work (above) moving Atlantis into the vertical position above the external tank and rocket boosters attached to the mobile launcher platform. It then slowly lowered the orbiter down for the hard mate connections at the tank umbilicals.

Rollout of the STS-129 space shuttle stack atop the mobile platform from the VAB is set for Wednesday morning at just after midnight EDT.

Once the MLP arrives at launch pad 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center, hoses and power cords will be connected and the launch team will get the space shuttle prepared for its planned launch on November 12th at 4:04 pm EDT.

Five days later, Atlantis crew of six will arrive on the Space Coast to begin three days of training which will wrap up with a practice launch countdown. Known as TCDT or terminal countdown demonstration test, the STS-129 crew will don their orange partial pressure suits and depart for the launch pad to board Atlantis just as they will do on launch day.

Atlantis - commanded by Charlie Hobaugh and piloted by Barry Wilmore - will make the 34th space shuttle flight to the International Space Station next month. Mission specialists Robert Satcher, Michael Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Leland Melvin round out the crew.

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