Friday, November 13, 2009

Live at KSC: Atlantis on track for Monday launch

LIVE IMAGES: The images above are from live video feeds in the Launch Complex 39 area at Kennedy Space Center, where Atlantis is scheduled to launch Monday. They will automatically refresh to the most up-to-the-minute image every 30 seconds.

Update: Countdown clocks at Kennedy Space Center began ticking as planned at 1 p.m.

The weather forecast is excellent for a planned 2:28 p.m. Monday launch of space shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center and no technical problems are being reported.

"We're not tracking any issues," NASA Test Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said this morning. "All of our work is on schedule and progressing well. The STS-129 flight crew, Atlantis and the launch team are ready to go."

Launch teams will be called to their stations at 12:30 p.m. today and countdown clocks are set to start ticking at 1 p.m.

At launch pad 39A today, the shuttle's payload bay doors were closed after cargo including two palettes of large spare parts for the International Space Station was given a final pre-sunrise inspection and cleared for flight.

"This processing campaign had been a very difficult, challenging race for our team," said Scott Higginbotham, the mission's NASA payload manager. "But we're smiling today, because we crossed the finish line and we survived."

Air Force meteorologists forecast a 90-percent chance of good weather for the shuttle launch Monday, and no problems for the earlier loading of more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's 15-story external tank. Fueling is scheduled to start at 5:03 a.m. Monday.

"The weather is looking very good for launch day," said Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters.

Atlantis could launch on its 31st flight as late as Thursday without impacting the planned 11-day mission.

Before then, the shuttle must wait to see if a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off tonight from Cape Canaveral with a communications satellite.

That launch is set for 12:48 a.m. Saturday, with a window extending until 2:18 a.m. There's a 70-percent chance of favorable weather.

Click here to read Todd Halvorson's preview of the launch.

The shuttle launch pad will be cleared and the countdown will hold at T minus 33 hours for the Atlas V launch. The pad is expected to reopen at 3 a.m. Saturday.

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