The Space shuttle Atlantis made the slow and steady journey out to its launch pad today, in preparations for its June 8 launch to return to the International Space Station and continue construction. With Atlantis back on its launch pad, NASA feels confident that the shuttle is fully repaired from the hailstorm that chewed up its foam insulation back in March.
The shuttle left the Vehicle Assembly Building at 5:02am local time, and crawled along at 1.4 kph (1 mph) for six hours and 45 minutes. With Atlantis at the launch pad, workers spent the rest of the day connecting up the electrical and mechanical umbilicals from the launch platform. This is the first time that a shuttle has blasted off from Launch Pad 39A in four years.
Atlantis is carrying the S3/S4 truss, which will be installed onto the International Space Station in June. During their 11-day mission, the astronaut team of STS-117 will install this new truss, unfold one set of solar arrays, and retract another.
The next major step will occur on May 23, when workers will start filling Atlantis with fuel. The 43-hour countdown will begin on June 5.
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Original Source: NASA News Release