Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live At KSC: NASA Prepares To Unveil Atlantis

Live: Refresh this page for the latest still images from live video feeds at Kennedy Space Center.

BLOGGER UPDATE, 5:39 PM: The Rotating Service Structure is backing away from Atlantis at launch pad 39A.

NASA is preparing to unveil shuttle Atlantis at its Kennedy Space Center launch pad as a countdown winds toward the planned launch Monday of six astronauts on an International Space Station outfitting mission.

The 18-story spaceship and its crew are slated to blast off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:28 p.m. Monday, the middle of a 10-minute opportunity to put Atlantis on course for a rendezvous and docking at the international outpost.

The launch countdown so far is proceeding without problems, and the Rotating Service Structure at the pad will be rolled back away from Atlantis at 5:30 p.m. today. High-powered xenon floodlights then will be turned on to illuminate Atlantis.

"At this point we're in very good shape. Atlantis is ready to launch," said NASA Test Director Steve Payne. "The team is ready to launch and I know that the flight crew is ready to launch."

The weather forecast is near-perfect.

Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters said there is a 90 percent chance that conditions will be acceptable for launch. The only concern is a slight chance of low cloud ceilings that might obscure the view of the shuttle during launch or the three-mile shuttle landing strip in the event of an emergency landing.

You can check out the Official Weather Forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron. The wing provides tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

You can also watch the unveiling of Atlantis live here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage of the RSS rollback starting at 5:30 p.m. The gantry move will take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

NASA and the weather squadron will be keeping tabs on the sea state in the solid rocket booster recovery area about 120 miles east of Jacksonville. The seas are expected to be seven to nine feet, which will make for rocky conditions on the Freedom Star and Liberty Star SRB recovery ships. Those conditions will not be a constraint to launch.

Atlantis will carry two carriers that hold two spare gyroscope, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and other critical spares to the outpost.

The crew includes: Commander Charles Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore, and Mission Specialists Michael Foreman, Randolph Bresnik, Leland Melvin, and Robert Satcher. Returning to Earth on Discovery will be space station crew member Nicole Stott.

Click HERE for a two-page STS-129 mission summary.

Click HERE for the STS-129 press kit.

The 11-day mission will include three spacewalks to outfit the station with large spare parts. Landing is scheduled for 9:43 a.m. Nov. 27.


Charles Kafka said...

now is this the last shuttle launch?

James Dean said...

Five more to go, Charles.