Friday, May 08, 2009

Live at KSC: Astronauts Fly In For Launch

The seven astronauts destined to launch aboard Atlantis on a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission just arrived at Kennedy Space Center, and after two-and-a-half years of training, they are good to go.

"Hello, Florida. It's great to be here. At last! It was a long road to get here. We're all thrilled," said Atlantis mission commander Scott "Scooter" Altman.

"To say it's sweet is an understatement," said pilot Gregory "Ray J" Johnson, who spent two years at KSC working as the manager of shuttle launch integration. "And to say I'm really happy is an understatement also."

"We are ready!" Altman added with a hand-pump. "Let's launch Atlantis!"

Altman and his crewmates flew to NASA's shuttle homeport in sleek white-and-blue T-38 training jets. They made a sweeping turn out over the Atlantic Ocean so they could see Atlantis on launch pad 39A and Endeavour on pad 39B.

"It was really special for us to be able to fly by and see both the shuttles on the pads," mission specialist Andrew "Drew" Feustel said.

Endeavour will be ready to launch on a rescue mission seven days after the Atlantis launch should the latter sustain critical damage during a planned launch Monday. Liftoff remains scheduled for 2:01 p.m.

The Atlantis crew also includes pilot Gregory "Ray J" Johnson and four other mission specialists: robot arm operator Megan McArthur and spacewalkers John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino and Mike Good.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge and save the Florida Today image of NASA's last Hubble Space Telescope servicing crew waving to photographers at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. From left to right are mission specialists Megan McArthur and Mike Good, pilot Gregory "Ray J" Johnson, mission commander Scott Altman, and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino and Drew Feustel.

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