The countdown is on for Friday’s scheduled launch of space shuttle Atlantis on its STS-132 mission. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians at Launch Pad 39A continue preparations for the liftoff at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The rotating service structure will be moved away from the spacecraft at 5:30 p.m. today.
“We’ve had a very clean countdown so far and we’re currently on schedule, and we’re not working on any issues,” NASA Test Director Jeremy Graeber said during a morning status briefing.”
On the eve of their launch to the International Space Station, Atlantis’ astronauts will enjoy a quiet day after conducting an L-1 systems and weather briefing with the ascent team of flight controllers at the Mission Control Center in Houston.
Favorable weather is predicted for the rest of the week. According to STS-132 Weather Officer Todd McNamara, the primary launch weather concern is a low cloud ceiling. But the forecast is good overall, calling for a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions at launch time.
Space shuttle Atlantis is embarking on its final planned mission. During the 12-day flight, Atlantis and six astronauts will fly to the International Space Station, leaving behind a Russian Mini Research Module, a set of batteries for the station’s truss and dish antenna, along with other replacement parts.
NASA astronaut Ken Ham will command an all-veteran flight crew: Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Michael Good, Garrett Reisman, Piers Sellers and Steve Bowen.
After the final STS-132 Flight Readiness Review, John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager, pointed out that Atlantis’ last planned mission will be an exciting one.
“Twelve days, three [spacewalks], tons of robotics… We’re putting on spares that make us feel good about the long-term sustainability of the ISS, replacing batteries that have been up there for a while, and docking a Russian-built ISS module,” Shannon said. “This flight has a little bit of everything, and it’s been a great preparation for the team.”