Science and Technology News

Monday, June 20, 2011

STS-135 Crew Heads to Florida for Countdown Test

The four veteran astronauts for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission are on their way to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two T-38 jets the crew members are flying in departed NASA Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field at 2:50 p.m. EDT. They're expected to make a refueling stop in Mobile, Ala., and then land at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility by about 5:45 p.m. The crew's arrival at Kennedy this afternoon will air live on NASA TV and on www.nasa.gov/ntv.

The crew is coming to Kennedy for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test and related training. The countdown full dress rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, at Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A, technicians are performing high-tech X-ray scans of the tops and bottoms of 50 support beams, called stringers, on the shuttle-facing side of space shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank. The scans should take about a week to complete and are expected to confirm there are no problems with the tank's stringers. Scans began Sunday due to strong storms on Saturday, which caused no damage to the shuttle and pad. Technicians are also replacing a suspected leaky valve in Atlantis' space shuttle main engine No. 3.

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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