Headlines > News > Atlantis Astronauts Enjoy Slow Ride to Pad with Shuttle

Atlantis Astronauts Enjoy Slow Ride to Pad with Shuttle

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:31 am via: NASA
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(NASA) – The astronauts who will fly space shuttle Atlantis into orbit next month got a rare chance Thursday morning as they rode along with their spacecraft on its slow trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Riding the crawler last night was absolutely fantastic,” Ham said. He said the crawler, powered by destroyer engines, reminded him of a Navy ship even though it moves across gravel instead of rolling waves. “It is incredible to see that battleship on the ground.”

The crew of STS-132 discusses the upcoming mission with space shuttle Atlantis standing behind them. The crew, led by Commander Ken Ham, left, will carry the Russian-built Mini-Research Module-1, or MRM-1, to the International Space Station. Atlantis is targeted for launch May 14 at 2:19 p.m. EDT. Image credit: NASA TV

The crew of STS-132 discusses the upcoming mission with space shuttle Atlantis standing behind them. The crew, led by Commander Ken Ham, left, will carry the Russian-built Mini-Research Module-1, or MRM-1, to the International Space Station. Atlantis is targeted for launch May 14 at 2:19 p.m. EDT. Image credit: NASA TV

Because of time constraints, few crews arrive at Kennedy in time to watch the shuttle rollout, but in this case the rollout had been postponed a few nights because of poor weather at Kennedy. The STS-132 astronauts are at Kennedy for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, a training exercise that offers the crew and launch teams a full-up simulation of launch day.

“I don’t think we’re getting too many things that are brand new, but we are getting a refresher,” Pilot Tony Antonelli said.

Mission Specialist Michael Good, whose call sign is “Bueno,” said TCDT gives the crew a chance to appreciate how close liftoff is.

“It brings it home that, hey, you’re going into space in a couple weeks,” Good said.

The crew will return to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston following Saturday’s launch dress rehearsal. The real liftoff is targeted for May 14 at 2:19 p.m. EDT.

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