Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Atlantis moving into Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC

Kennedy Space Center workers began rolling Atlantis from its hangar into the Vehicle Assembly Building a little after 7 a.m., moving it a step closer toward a targeted May 14 launch to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, in orbit, Discovery spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson are wrapping up a third spacewalk with some tasks intended to assist the Atlantis crew, moving a foot restraint and connecting some cables where a spare antenna will be stowed.

Mastracchio and Anderson began their spacewalk at 2:14 a.m. It was scheduled to last six hours and 30 minutes.

At Kennedy, NASA planned to have Atlantis pause in front of the 52-story assembly building to allow workers to take photographs, one in a series of events intended to build morale and offer thanks to the workforce as the shuttle program winds down.

Atlantis' flight is one of three remaining after Discovery's planned return next Monday.

Atlantis is scheduled to roll out to launch pad 39A a week from today at 12:01 a.m., but could begin the 3.4-mile trek a few hours earlier to accommodate another employee photo op.

Atlantis' six-person flight crew, led by mission commander Ken Ham, is scheduled to fly into KSC next Tuesday for four days of training including a launch countdown dress rehearsal.

This could be Atlantis' final rollover to the VAB and rollout to the pad. Upon its return, it will undergo processing to serve as the rescue shuttle for the final mission, and NASA could decide to fly one more mission before the end of the year if time and money permit.

IMAGE: By Michael R. Brown, Florida Today.


Mark Lopa said...

Wow...it just hit me that unless there are flights added to the manifest, this is the last time Atlantis will be rolled from the OPF to the VAB preparing for a mission. It's just not right.

ZihuaRob said...

I still recall the day the first shuttle launched from KSC. We were in the student lounge at Edison Community College in Ft. Myers watching the countdown and liftoff when someone looked outside and said "Hey, I can see it!" And sure enough, from hundreds of miles away on a clear day across the flatness of the state we could see the liftoff of Columbia STS-1 with its then white external fuel tank. It wasn't until I moved to Titusville and saw the first post-Challenger liftoff that I was able to appreciate the awe-inspiring majesty of a liftoff up close and personal.