Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Countdown to Atlantis' Liftoff Begins Today


The countdown to liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis on its STS-132 mission is set to begin today at 4 p.m. EDT. Launch controllers will report to their consoles in NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Control Center at 3:30 p.m. to be in place when countdown clocks start counting back from the T-43 hour mark.

"Teams at the Kennedy Space Center and at other centers around the country have been working very hard to get this vehicle ready to fly, and I am happy to report everything is going quite well at [Launch Pad 39A]," NASA Test Director Steve Payne said Tuesday morning. "Atlantis, crew and launch team are ready to go and looking forward to a beautiful launch Friday afternoon."

During the 12-day mission, Atlantis and the mission's six astronauts are delivering an Integrated Cargo Carrier and a Russian-built Mini Research Module to the International Space Station. Technicians will close Atlantis' payload bay doors today, although a few experiments will be added to Atlantis' middeck about 28 hours prior to launch.

Atlantis' astronauts arrived at Kennedy on Monday evening, touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility in four T-38 jets at 6:49 p.m. Today the crew members will review flight day file material and take part in a checkout of their orange launch-and-entry suits.

Liftoff is scheduled for May 14 at 2:20 p.m. According to Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters, weather is expected to be favorable, with a 70 percent chance of good conditions. The primary weather concern for Friday is the possibility of a low cloud ceiling. Partly cloudy and generally dry conditions will dominate the afternoon hours throughout the week.