Wednesday, June 01, 2011

NASA Hails Shuttle Rollout, Shuttle Landing

NASA officials hailed the job done by six astronauts on Endeavour's 25th and final flight and looked forward to a strong finish with the planned flight in July of the nation's final space shuttle mission.

Endeavour and its crew capped a wildly successful mission to deliver a $2 billion cosmic ray detector to the International Space Station with a 2:35 a.m. landing on Runway 15 here at Kennedy Space Center.

"What a great ending to this really wonderful mission that we just got to witness," NASA space operations chief William Gerstenmaier said in a post-landing news conference.

About the same time, Atlantis made its final approach to launch pad 39A, where the shuttle will be prepped for a planned July 8 lift off on the shuttle program's grand finale -- a supply run to the International Space Station.

The rare doubleheader made for a big day at NASA's prime launch operations center.

"It's a good night for us," said NASA Shuttle Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses.

"It was another good day at the Kennedy Space Center," NASA Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach added.

Moses said that Endeavour looked in near-pristine condition on the runway.

"It could fly another 20 years. No Doubt. And keep going," he said.

Leinbach said that rollout of Atlantis kept NASA on track for the July 8 launch. Liftoff time is set for 11:38 a.m.

An external tank propellant-loading test will be performed on June 15. The test is required because structural braces on the tank where made with a suspect batch of metal alloy.

The four astronauts who will fly the final mission were here at KSC for the rollout. They include mission commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

The astronauts will be back at KSC the week of June 20 for their Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. The practice countdown is the crew's last major training drill at KSC prior to launch.

A three-day launch countdown is scheduled to pick up on July 5.


Kyriu said...

There was a fire near the rudder during landing, is that expected? I've never saw a landing before and that got me curious.

Mark Lopa said...

Endeavour seemed to stop her rollout much sooner than normal. Was that done on purpose?