Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Atlantis Heads To Pad; Endeavour Set To Land

Atlantis is heading out to its Kennedy Space Center launch pad as astronauts aboard Endeavour prepare to make a supersonic slide back through the atmosphere for an after-dark landing at the shuttle's homeport.

Atlantis is scheduled to launch July 8 on the nation's final shuttle flight. The four astronauts who will fly on Atlantis were here at KSC tonight to watch the spaceship emerge from the Vehicle Assembly Building and start its 3.5-mile trek to the pad.

Mission Control in Houston just gave Endeavour's crew a go-ahead to close the spaceship's clam shell-like cargo bay doors. Flying a T-38 training jet around the KSC area, NASA astronaut Rick "C.J." Sturckow says the weather is good enough to proceed with deorbit preparations.

The Endeavour astronauts are scheduled to land at KSC's three-mile runway at 2:35 a.m. A Go/No-Go decision on a deorbit burn is expected around 1 a.m.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the image of Atlantis in the midst of its final rollout to launch pad 39A in advance of NASA's last shuttle flight, which is scheduled to blast off on July 8. It will be NASA's 135th shuttle mission and the 33rd flight for Atlantis. Photo credit: Ryan Wollrath/For Florida Today.

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