Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Atlantis, Atlas V trying to reach launch pads

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is set to roll to its launch pad this morning, but weather has again delayed shuttle Atlantis' move.

Atlantis, delayed since Monday night by stormy weather, was expected to begin rolling from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. today atop a giant crawler-transporter. You can see the vehicles poised to leave the VAB in the video feeds above.

But NASA just announced that the six-hour, 3.4-mile trip will be put on hold again, until 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The crawlerway is too wet to support the move.

This may be the last time the 25-year-old spaceship rolls out to launch pad 39A. Atlantis' targeted May 14 launch to the International Space Station is expected to be its final flight.

Atlantis' six-person crew arrived at KSC Tuesday evening for pre-launch training.

At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the 19-story Atlas V rocket at 10 a.m. was scheduled to begin rolling from its towering Vertical Integration Facility to the pad at Launch Complex 41. The rocket rolls about a quarter-mile on rails that should be less affected by rainfall.

Atop the rocket is the Air Force's Orbital Test Vehicle, an 11,000-pound, unmanned mini space shuttle (left) that was conceived by NASA's X-37B program. Click here for an Air Force fact sheet on the vehicle.

The rocket is scheduled to launch Thursday at 7:52 p.m., the opening of a nine-minute window.

There's an 80-percent chance of favorable launch weather according to the most recent forecast.


Stephen C. Smith said...

Thanks, James. I was about to run over to KSCVC and hop a tour bus in the hope I'd get a rare public opportunity to see the crawler rollout. Oh well.

James Dean said...

Glad to help, Stephen C. You're right -- the overnight move now planned will limit the number of folks who get to see it, which is too bad.

Anonymous said...

That sure looks like a nifty Shuttle replacement....