Friday, October 09, 2009

Atlantis Rollout To Launch Pad Delayed Day

NASA is slipping by a day the rollout next week of shuttle Atlantis as a result of crane trouble that resulted in a 14-hour delay in assembly operations earlier this week.

With its mobile launcher platform mounted atop a diesel-powered crawler-transporter, Atlantis now is slated to creep out High Bay No. 1 of the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The 3.5-mile trip to launch pad 39A is expected to take about six hours to complete.

Atlantis backed out of its processing hangar and rolled into the 52-story assembly building Tuesday. Crane operators hoisted the vehicle into the vertical position and were preparing to move Atlantis into High bay No. 1 when an electrical glitch brought the operation to a halt.

Engineers traced the trouble to a wiring problem that was subsequently fixed and the crane operation resumed Wednesday afternoon. The orbiter was hoisted over a 16th floor transom and then carefully lowered onto a mobile launcher platform. Technicians then mated the orbiter to an external tank equipped with two solid rocket motors.

The one-day rollout delay is not expected to impact the planned Nov. 12 launch of Atlantis and six astronauts on a mission to outfit the International Space Station. The flight is the first of six remaining before the shuttle fleet is retired in late 2010 or 2011.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the image of Atlantis hanging from a yellow sling as crane operators lifted it toward High Bay No. 1 of the Vehicle Assembly Building. You can also click the enlarged image to get an even bigger, more detailed view. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller.

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