Atlantis astronauts arrive at the Cape for launch
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: June 4, 2007
"It's great to be down here in Florida," said commander Rick Sturckow. "We appreciate this great weather you got for us today to fly in here. If you can just get some weather like this for us on Friday evening, we'll appreciate that, too.
"The crew is very excited to be in Florida. We've spent a long time training for this mission. As you know, we had a little bit of a setback, we were supposed to go in March. We especially appreciate all the great work that was done on ET-124, our external tank. ... We just flew by the launch pad on the way in here. It looks great."
Running three months late because of hail damage to the shuttle's external fuel tank insulation, Atlantis' crew plans to deliver and install a $367 million set of solar arrays and a powerful rotary joint to help them track the sun. They also plan to complete the retraction of another set of arrays so it can be moved as required later this year.
Three spacewalks are planned and the crew is prepared to stage a fourth, supplies permitting, if they run into problems retracting the P6-2B solar array wing.
The countdown for shuttle mission STS-117 is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday, setting up a launch attempt at 7:38:02 p.m. Friday. NASA's Spaceflight Meteorology Group has not yet released a launch forecast, but the National Weather Service in nearby Melbourne predicts partly cloudy skies and a 30 percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms Friday, decreasing to 20 percent Saturday night.
If all goes well, engineers will pump liquid hydrogen and oxygen aboard the orbiter Wednesday evening to power the ship's three electricity producing fuel cells. NASA's mission management team will meet Friday morning to assess launch processing and the weather. If no major problems develop, the shuttle's huge external fuel tank will be loaded with a half-million gallons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen starting around 9:42 a.m.
Sturckow and his crewmates are scheduled to suit up and head for pad 39A a few minutes before 4 p.m. Friday to strap in for launch.
Today's crew arrival kicks off a busy week of space activity. Aboard the international space station, Expedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Oleg Kotov are gearing up for a six-hour spacewalk Wednesday to complete the installation of micrometeoroid shields on the Zvezda command module.
Yurchikhin and Kotov installed five panels during a spacewalk last week and another 12 are to be installed Wednesday. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
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