Archive - May 2009
WASHINGTON - Fresh on the heels of a successful flight to the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA is again gearing up to launch a space shuttle into orbit, but bad weather could delay the June spaceflight, mission managers said Thursday.
NASA hopes to launch the shuttle Endeavour on June 13 to deliver the last piece of Japan's massive Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station during a marathon 16-day construction flight. The hopes to build on the momentum from the recent Hubble service call, which ended last Sunday when the shuttle Atlantis landed in California.
"We're going to do it again now," said John Shannon, NASA's space shuttle program manager, in a Thursday briefing.
The space shuttle Atlantis may begin a cross-country trek atop a tricked out jumbo jet as early as Sunday to fly from a California landing site to its Florida home, weather permitting, NASA officials said.
Atlantis will ride piggyback atop a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet during the planned ferry flight, a $1.8 million trip aimed at returning the shuttle home from California's Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. The shuttle landed on backup desert runway there last Sunday to end a 13-day mission that overhauled the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time.
Bad weather prevented several attempts to land at NASA's primary shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The center is the launch site and home port for NASA's three-shuttle fleet.
Three new crew members arrived at the International Space Station at 8:34 a.m. EDT Friday. After launching from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, flight engineers Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk and Frank De Winne spent two days in space aboard the Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft before docking to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module.
Awaiting the newest arrivals were the Expedition 19 crew members Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Koichi Wakata and Mike Barratt. Hatch opening between the Soyuz and Zarya occurred at 10:14 a.m. signifying the beginning of Expedition 20 and six-person crew operations. A welcome ceremony and a safety briefing for the new arrivals followed.