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.

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