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Sun, May 31, 2009

Things Moving Into High Gear At NASA

Atlantis Coming Home, Endeavor Moving To Launch Pad

Space shuttle Endeavour's move from NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B to Launch Pad 39A was targeted, as of a few hours ago, to begin at 2 a.m. Sunday, May 31. The 2-hour delay will allow engineers and technicians to complete move preparations following delays due to inclement weather at Kennedy.

Endeavour's flight will deliver the final components of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station. The 16-day mission will include five spacewalks and the installation of two platforms outside of the Japanese module. One platform is permanent and will serve as a type of porch for experiments that require direct exposure to space. The other is an experiment storage palette that will be detached and returned with the shuttle. During the mission, Kibo's robotic arm will exchange three experiments from the palette to the platform. Future experiments also can be transfer to the platform from the inside using the laboratory’s airlock. Endeavour also will deliver a new crew member and bring back another after more than three months aboard the station.

The STS-127 payload, the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility and Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section, is already at Launch Pad 39A and will be installed in Endeavour after the shuttle arrives at the pad. Liftoff is targeted for June 13.

The STS-125 ferry flight departure is now scheduled for no earlier than Monday morning. Flight managers are looking at various options for the best route to the Kennedy Space Center. Weather remains very dynamic.

The mate of Atlantis to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft was  scheduled for Saturday evening. Space shuttle Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 24, completing a 13-day journey of approximately 5.3 million miles in space. Atlantis will return to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida next week atop a modified 747 jet known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.



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