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article imageAll systems go for Atlantis launch on June 8

By Carpenter S. Newton     Jun 1, 2007 in Science
After a three month delay due to hail damage, space shuttle Atlantis passed a Flight Readiness Review on Thursday, setting up a launch date of June 8 for its mission to the International Space Station.
Carpenter Newton reporting for Digital Journal – It seemed like a repeat performance of late February, except this time, without the hail.
The last time Atlantis went up for Flight Readiness Review, a hail storm caused major damage to insulation on the shuttle’s external fuel tank the day before the review. The damage forced Atlantis to be rolled back for extensive repairs, a significant feat of engineering completed in under two months.
“We have a team, particularly in the external fuel tank area, that was hit with this unforeseen and unexpected occurrence of the hail storm. In spite of a great deal of work that had to be done, they accomplished it in a very professional manner. We are extremely confident we have done perfectly good repairs and we will have a tank that is safe to fly,” said Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale in a briefing after the review.
The Flight Readiness Review, typically conducted about two weeks before launch of a space shuttle, is a comprehensive review of all activities and elements necessary for safe and successful execution of operations, from the shuttle vehicle itself to the flight crew and payloads. In order for the shuttle to launch, a Certification of Flight Readiness must be signed, indicating all flight preparation processes have been completed.
Following the review, Bill Gerstenmaier, director of space operations at NASA, announced Atlantis would launch June 8 at 7:38 p.m. EST from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Hale added, “We have no show stoppers ahead of us.”
Crew of STS-117
Crew of STS-117
Mission STS-117, commanded by Rick Sturckow, will deliver a new truss segment to the International Space Station. The crew will install the new segment and fold/unfold solar array panels in a series of spacewalks scheduled during the course of the 11-day mission. Additionally, astronauts Sunita Williams and Clayton Anderson will trade places aboard the Space Station. Williams, who has been living on the ISS since last December’s shuttle mission, will return home slightly earlier than planned thanks to the hail delay that plagued Atlantis.
Should weather force a launch delay on June 8, NASA can attempt to launch the spacecraft on the 9th, 11th or 12th before having to stand down to top off onboard supplies. The next launch window would open on June 17.
For more on Atlantis and Mission STS-117, click onto this mission overview on NASA’s website.
Quotes used in this article taken from NASA TV broadcast of briefing following the Flight Readiness Review.
More about NASA, Atlantis, Sts-117
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