SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468
*Mating to Begin *
Atlantis is suspended vertically in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller + View High-res Image http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/169070main_shuttle_vertical.jpg
TO VIEW IMAGE GO TO www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html
Space Shuttle Atlantis hangs suspended in its sling in the transfer aisle of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Preparations are underway to lift the vehicle up into high bay 1, where it will be lowered onto the mobile launcher platform for mating to the external tank and solid rocket boosters.
The orbiter was transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Wednesday. First motion was at 6:19 a.m. EST.
The rollover marks a milestone in the start of the vehicle's journey to Launch Pad 39A, scheduled for Feb. 14. Mission STS-117 will be the first launch at Pad 39A in four years.
The flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station on mission STS-117 has been targeted for March 15, a day earlier than originally planned.
On the next space shuttle flight to continue constructing the station, the Atlantis crew will install a new truss segment, retract a set of solar arrays and unfold a new set on the starboard side of the station. Lessons learned from two previous missions will provide the astronauts with new techniques and tools to perform their duties.
Commanding the Atlantis team is Frederick Sturckow, a veteran of two shuttle missions (STS-88, STS-105), while Lee Archambault will be making his first flight as the shuttle's pilot. Mission Specialists James Reilly (STS-89, STS-104) and Patrick Forrester (STS-105) will be returning to the station. Steven Swanson and John Olivas, both mission specialists, join the crew for their first flight into space.
The mission astronauts will return to Kennedy a few weeks before liftoff to participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. During this time they will practice launch activities, safety exercises, inspect the payload and conclude with a simulated main engine cut-off exercise.
*STS-117 Mission* + The Crew http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts117/index.html
+ The Integrated Truss Structure http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/its.html
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