Friday, April 23, 2010

Atlantis countdown drill in progress at KSC

Kennedy Space Center launch teams manned stations early this morning for a countdown drill that will see Atlantis astronauts strap into their shuttle seats Saturday to simulate their targeted May 14 liftoff.

The dress rehearsal, called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, began with a call to stations at 2:38 a.m. today for 30 to 40 employees.

Today is mostly a day off for the six-person crew of Atlantis, whose stay in Florida was extended by a day after Atlantis' arrival at launch pad 39A was delayed until Thursday morning by weather.

The crew flew to KSC Tuesday evening to start standard pre-launch training that includes emergency launch pad escape drills, practice landings, fit checks of launch and entry suits and the mock countdown.

The astronauts took time Thursday to answer questions from reporters. Click here for a story explaining why they were a little tired at the time.

After donning the orange "pumpkin" suits worn during launch and entry, the crew is scheduled to walk out of KSC's Operations and Checkout building at 7:45 a.m. Saturday for a ride to the launch pad, mimicking the same steps they'll take on launch day.

The countdown drill is expected to conclude around 11 a.m. with the clock stopped at T minus four seconds, after which an emergency escape will be simulated.

Led by mission commander Ken Ham, the crew for what is expected to be Atlantis' final flight includes pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialists Steve Bowen, Mike Good, Garrett Reisman and Piers Sellers.

If the 12-day mission to the International Space Station launches May 14, liftoff would be planned for 2:19 p.m., the middle of a 10-minute window. NASA expects to confirm the launch date May 5.

IMAGE: On launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, sun glinted off the braces that connect space shuttle Atlantis to its external fuel tank. Atlantis' first motion on its 3.4-mile trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building was at 11:31 p.m. EDT April 21. The shuttle was secured, or "hard down," on the pad at 6:03 a.m. April 22. The STS-132 mission is the 34th to the station and the 132nd shuttle mission overall. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go Atlantis!