Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NASA To Firm Up Date For Last Shuttle Launch

The July 8 target launch date for the nation’s final space shuttle mission likely will be firmed up today after a formal readiness review at Kennedy Space Center.

Four astronauts are tentatively scheduled to blast off at 11:26 a.m. July 8 on a final shuttle supply run to the International Space Station.

Weekend engine tests and a review of data from x-ray inspections of the shuttle’s external tank put NASA back on course for launch a week from this coming Friday.

Senior NASA executives and managers are expected to confirm the launch date and time at the conclusion of today’s agency-level flight readiness review.

“We’re still looking good for the July 8 target date,” KSC spokesman Allard Beutel said Monday. “We still have several days of cushion in the schedule.”

NASA will hold a news conference after the review, and you can watch live here in The Flame Trench. The time is still TBD. Click the NASA TV box on the right to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage.

Taking part in the briefing: William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations; Mike Moses, NASA's Shuttle Launch Integration Manager; and NASA Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach.

As it stands, the Atlantis crew is scheduled to arrive at NASA’s shuttle homeport next Monday – the federal July 4 holiday. The crew includes commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim.

NASA’s final shuttle launch countdown is slated to pick up at 1 p.m. next Tuesday.

Atlantis is scheduled to touch down on KSC’s shuttle runway at 7:06 a.m. on July 20 – the 42nd anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

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