Astronauts Arrive in Florida for Final Planned Launch of Shuttle Atlantis
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Robert Z. Pearlman
SPACE.com robert Z. Pearlman
space.com – Mon May 10, 11:00 pm ET
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The astronauts who will fly the space shuttle Atlantis' final planned mission arrived at their Florida launch site late Monday, four days ahead of their scheduled liftoff.
Commander Ken Ham led his STS-132 mission crewmates to a 6:49 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) landing on the Shuttle Landing Facility here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same runway where he will ultimately land Atlantis for the spacecraft's last time.
The astronauts came to Florida from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, flying in four T-38 training jets. They are due to launch Atlantis' final mission Friday, May 14, at 2:20 p.m. EDT (1820 GMT).
"We are ready to launch," Ham told reporters gathered at the landing strip. "We've completed every bit of training we can and we're confident."
"Look for a good show on Friday," he added.
Ham, STS-132 pilot Dominic "Tony" Antonelli and mission specialists Steven Bowen, Garrett Reisman, Michael Good and Piers Sellers will deliver and install the Russian Mini-Research Module-1, also called "Rassvet" (which means "Dawn" in Russian) during their 12-day flight to the International Space Station.
Before that can happen though, an unmanned resupply spacecraft needed to undock from the station, which it did earlier today, and the outpost's crew will need to reposition one of their Soyuz spacecraft to open the port where Atlantis' crew will berth the new Russian module.
"All that's got to happen in the next few days before we get off the ground," Ham said. "So once again, we're in a situation where there is a heck of a lot going on in space... and it's pretty darn cool."
The activity will only increase during the STS-132 mission. Bowen, Good and Reisman are scheduled to conduct three spacewalks -- two each in pairs of two -- to configure spare parts outside the station, replace batteries for one of the solar array wings, and add new hands to the Canadian-built robot, Dextre.
While spacecraft are being shuffled in space, the STS-132 astronauts will spend their next few days at Kennedy reviewing final procedures for their mission. Ham and space-shuttle-atlantis-crew-arrive-100510 will practice landing Atlantis by flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft, a modified Gulfstream II aircraft that mimics the handling and controls that they will find on-board Atlantis.
Although the countdown to Atlantis' liftoff won't begin until 4:00 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) Tuesday, attention is already focused on when the STS-132 mission will end, as it will mark the finale for Atlantis' 25-year spaceflight career. Unless the shuttle is called into emergency service for the very last space shuttle mission, STS-134, Atlantis' STS-132 mission will be its last.
NASA is shutting down the shuttle program this year, a decision that was made in the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003. President Obama has proposed replacing the shuttle fleet with commercial launch services to taxi astronauts to and from the space station.
STS-132 is the 132nd flight of the shuttle program and the 32nd mission for Atlantis.
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Original Story: Astronauts Arrive in Florida for Final Planned Launch of Shuttle Atlantis
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