Thursday, April 30, 2009

Live at KSC: Atlantis' readiness reviewed

Editor's note, 12:50 p.m.: This evening's news conference has been moved up an hour to 5 p.m. Flight readiness review presentations before lunchtime indicate that external tank, booster and payload systems are ready to support a May 11 launch, according to NASA updates. The meeting will resume after lunch with discussion about the orbiter.

Senior NASA managers are gathering at Kennedy Space Center this morning to review the readiness of Atlantis to embark on a final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

The all-day flight readiness review, which begins at 8 a.m., is expected to set an official launch date for the 11-day mission.

The launch has been targeted for May 11, and NASA officials have said processing of the shuttle and its payload are on track.

The readiness of shuttle Endeavour, which is poised to fly a rescue mission if necessary, must also be assessed.

A news conference is scheduled no earlier than 6 p.m. involving Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations; John Shannon, shuttle program manager; Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director; and Michael Luther, Science Mission Directorate associate administrator for programs.

For the first time, NASA plans to provide updates during the meeting via Twitter. Click here to follow the "tweets."

Check back here for updates as well.

If the May 11 date is confirmed, the launch time would be 2:01 p.m.

Planned repairs to a radiator panel inside Atlantis' cargo bay, which sustained a crack after a worker's wrench socket fell from an access platform during installation of the payload, was not expected to impact the launch date.

IMAGE NOTE: Click the image above twice to fully enlarge it. In shuttle Atlantis' payload bay at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, STS-125 crew members on Tuesday took a final close look at the hardware for the Hubble servicing mission before the targeted May 11 launch. Atlantis' 11-day mission will include five spacewalks to refurbish and upgrade the telescope with state-of-the-art science instruments. The payload bay holds four carriers of equipment that include the Wide Field Camera 3, Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, the Soft Capture Mechanism and replacement gyroscopes and batteries. As a result, Hubble's capabilities will be expanded and its operational lifespan extended through at least 2014. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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