Sunday, May 10, 2009

Live At KSC: See Shuttle Unveiled At Pad 39A

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still images from cameras at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A (left) and NASA TV (right).

NASA is gearing up for the unveiling of shuttle Atlantis at its Kennedy Space Center launch pad as countdown clocks continue to tick toward a scheduled liftoff Monday afternoon.

On the eve of its 30th flight, Atlantis will come into full view between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. as engineers and technicians roll back a towering service gantry at the pad.

The Rotating Service Structure is 102 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 130 feet high and provides five levels at which technicians and engineers can access the shuttle orbiter at the launch pad. Its most prominent feature is the payload changeout room. More than 22,000 pounds of Hubble hardware was lifted into that room last month and then transferred into the shuttle's cargo bay.

The 4,500-pound gantry sits atop a rail that enables it to retract 120 degrees -- one third of a circle, away from the shuttle before launch.

You can watch the move live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box at the righthand side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage. You can also see what amounts to sequential still video by refreshing this page while the move is under way. The still image from the live video feed at the top left of this item will refresh every minute or so.

Atlantis and seven astronauts remain scheduled to launch at 2:01 p.m. Monday and there is a 90 percent chance the weather will be acceptable for flight.

A crew led by veteran mission commander Scott "Scooter" Altman will fly a fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. The astronauts aim to install two new science instruments, repair two others and equip the observatory to operate another five or 10 years.

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

Check out a summary of the 11-day mission HERE.

Check out the more detailed, official NASA Press Kit HERE

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