Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Live at KSC: Hubble Launch Preps Continue

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still images from cameras in the Launch Complex 39 area at Kennedy Space Center.

Non-essential personnel will be cleared from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center later today as preparations continue for a 2:01 p.m. Monday launch of shuttle Atlantis to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Air Force's 45th Space Wing has issued an advisory warning boaters to stay out of a defined hazard area on launch day or face penalites of up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. View a map of the hazard area here.

At pad A today, initial pressurization is set to begin of two dozen helium and nitrogen tanks that help push fuel to the orbiter's main propulsion and maneuvering system engines. Personnel are cleared as a precaution because a tank rupture could cause an explosion.

Pad A will be reopened Wednesday morning for a final charging of six replacement batteries being hauled to Hubble, a process that takes about 20 hours.

If NASA cannot launch Atlantis during its first three planned attempts next week, those nickel hydrogen batteries would need to be recharged, which could take at least a week.

Crews finished filling liquid hydrogen storage tanks at pad A on Monday that will help power Atlantis' climb to orbit. At pad 39B to the north today, tanks are being loaded with liquid oxygen that would help launch Endeavour in the unlikely event it is needed for a rescue mission.

In Houston, after going into quarantine last night, the Atlantis crew of seven astronauts today is participating in a final entry simulation. The crew is expected to fly into KSC around 5 p.m. Friday.

IMAGE NOTE: Click to enlarge the diagram showing the location of fluids and gas tanks on an orbiter. Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center.

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