Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Atlantis Astronauts Arrive at Kennedy Space Center

STS-135 Crew: Sandy Magnus, Pilot Doug Hurley, Commander Chris Ferguson
 and Mission Specialist Rex Walheim. (Image credit: NASA TV) 
The astronauts for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission have arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson said "As our children and our children's children ask us, we want to be able to say, 'We remember when there was a space shuttle.'"  he was accompanied by Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

Their T-38 jets touched down at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility at about 5:30 p.m. EDT. The crew will participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test and related training. The countdown full dress rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Astronaut Sandy Magnus said "It’s going to be a challenging mission with only four of us but really the driver for that is the fact that our rescue scenario’s a little bit different than normal. Ever since Columbia, we’ve been mandated to have a shuttle on the pad ready to launch in case the crew has an issue with the orbiter and they need to be rescued. Because we are the last orbiter, there’s not an orbiter there waiting for us so our rescue scenario involves the Soyuz capsules which we’re flying to station via the Russians, and on the Soyuz capsules only one person can come down at a time. With a crew of four it takes a year to get everybody down and that was deemed to be enough. You don’t want to have six or seven people up there it would take close to two years to get everybody down".

Atlantis is being prepared for the STS-135 mission, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, targeted for launch July 8.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Preparation for the final Space Shuttle Mission

Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad (Image Credit NASA)

Space Shuttle Atlantis is being prepared for the STS-135 mission, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, targeted for launch on July the 8th.

The mission's four astronauts are scheduled to fly to Kennedy from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in T-38 jets, arriving at 15:45 EDT (22.45 GMT) to begin their prelaunch countdown rehearsal. Their arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility will be shown live on NASA TV.

At Launch Pad 39A in Florida technicians are X-raying the 50 support beams, called stringers, on the shuttle-facing side of space shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank. This should take about a week to complete but no problems are anticipated with the tank's stringers. Scans began Sunday due to strong storms on Saturday, which caused no damage to the shuttle and pad.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Launchpad

Photo Credit: NASA
Space shuttle Atlantis has completed the 3.4 mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A.

The external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters were secured to the launch pad at 3:29 a.m. The move began last night at 8:42 p.m. and took approximately 7 hours.

Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands Safely After Final Mission

Image Credit: NASA
Space Shuttle Endeavour landed at Kennedy Space Center at 02.35 EST (07.35 GMT) after successfully completing 16 days in space and more than 6.5 million miles.

Crew members Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre.

This was the final flight of Endeavour, which will now be decommissioned for permanent display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.   Endeavour launched on its first mission on May 7, 1992 and has spent 299 days in space and travelled more than 122.8 million miles during its 25 flights.