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Final training before Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off on final mission

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.

STS-132 Commander Ken Ham and Pilot Tony Antonelli practice touch-and-go landings in Shuttle Training Aircraft in preparation for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission. Image credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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.”

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