Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live At KSC: Tower Rollback Clears Way For Atlantis

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

NASA rolled back a towering gantry at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A tonight, setting the stage for an early-morning propellant-loading operation and an afternoon launch of shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts on an International Space Station outfitting mission.

With the sun setting over Florida's Space Coast, the Rotating Service Structure at the pad started moving away from Atlantis right around 5:30 p.m. The vehicle was fully exposed and the gantry was in the park position within about a half-hour.

Atlantis and its crew are scheduled to blast off at 2:28 p.m. Monday, the middle of a 10-minute window of opportunity to put Atlantis on course for a ground-up rendezvous and docking at the international outpost just before noon Wednesday.

The weather forecast for launch remains near-perfect. There is a 90-percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch.

Coming up:

At 7 p.m., a team of astronauts and engineers will board Atlantis and make certain the myriad switches on the flight deck of the spaceship are in proper position for launch.

The launch pad is slated to be cleared at midnight. NASA's Mission Management Team will meet at 4:30 a.m. to make a call on whether to proceed with external tank propellant-loading operations.

Engineers are scheduled to begin pumping 528,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's 15-story external tank at 5:03 a.m. You can watch live coverage of the tanking operation right here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage beginning at 5 a.m. Make sure to refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

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