Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Live At KSC: Shuttle Lift Resumes After Glitch Fixed

The orbiter Atlantis is being hoisted atop a mobile launcher platform in the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building today after engineers fixed an electrical glitch that halted the operation last night.

Secured in a yellow sling with its wings tilted at a 45-degree angle, the 122-foot-long spaceship is being lifted up and over a 16th floor transom in the assembly building.

The orientation of Atlantis is enabling crane operators to move the orbiter into High Bay No. 1 without clipping the ship's delta-shaped wings, which span 78 feet from tip to tip.

Atlantis will be lowered onto a mobile launcher platform and then mated to an external tank equipped with two attached solid rocket boosters. The mating operation will be followed by a weeklong series of tests aimed at verifying mechanical and electrical connections between the orbiter, the tank-and-booster stack and the mobile launcher platform.

KSC spokesman Allard Beutel said NASA still is planning to roll Atlantis out to launch pad 39A next Tuesday.

Atlantis and six astronauts are scheduled to blast off Nov. 12 on a mission to outfit the International Space Station. The orbiter rolled into the 52-story assembly building early Tuesday.

Crane operators with United Space Alliance hoisted Atlantis off the floor of the assembly building later in the day and then lifted the orbiter into the vertical position. The spaceship was ready to be move over the 16th-floor transom when an electrical glitch brought the operation to a halt at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Engineers traced the glitch to a wiring problem that subsequently was fixed. The orbiter lift resumed at about 12:15 p.m. and the orbiter is expected to be mated to the tank later today.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the image of Atlantis being lifted off the floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building and toward High Bay No. 1. The lifting operation was halted last night as a result of an electrical glitch that was fixed around noon today. The orbiter is being lowered onto a mobile launcher platform so it can be attached to an external tank equipped with two attached solid rocket boosters. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smeyelsky.

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