Thursday, October 29, 2009

Live at KSC: NASA targeting Nov. 16 Atlantis launch

A day after NASA's Ares I-X test flight launched from Kennedy Space Center, agency executives are meeting at the spaceport to set a launch date for space shuttle Atlantis next month.

The mission dubbed STS-129 is one of six remaining shuttle flights. It will deliver critical spare parts to the International Space Station and bring home station flight engineer Nicole Stott.

NASA is targeting a 2:28 p.m. Nov. 16 liftoff.

A news conference following the Flight Readiness Review is planned around 6 p.m.

Click here to open a NASA TV video player to watch the event live.

NASA is also providing Twitter updates from the meeting.

Preparations for the mission were slowed slightly by Wednesday's Ares I-X launch, which blasted off about a mile north of Atlantis resting on pad 39A.

Two unmanned rockets scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in mid-November also complicated the shuttle's launch opportunities, but NASA says it has secured Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 on the Air Force's Eastern Range.

The 11-day flight must launch by Nov. 19 or else stand down for more than two weeks because the sun's angle to the space station could not support a shuttle mission.

Charlie Hobaugh is the mission's commander. He'll be joined on the way up to space by pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialists Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman, Leland Melvin and Bobby Satcher. Stott will join the crew on the way home.

The mission's primary payload - two platforms carrying large spare parts - is set to be delivered to the launch pad at midnight tonight.

Check out this NASA mission summary and press kit for more background.

IMAGE NOTE: With more than 12 times the thrust produced by a Boeing 747 jet aircraft, the Constellation program's Ares I-X test rocket roared off launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday. At left is space shuttle Atlantis, poised on launch pad 39A for liftoff, targeted for Nov. 16. This was the first launch from Kennedy's pads of a vehicle other than the space shuttle since the Apollo Program's Saturn rockets were retired. Photo courtesy of Scott Andrews, Canon

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