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Shuttle Set to Dock With Station Sunday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jul 9, 2011 8:23 am via: NASA
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With a cargo carrier packed with supplies and equipment, Atlantis launched Friday morning to the International Space Station on the final space shuttle mission.

The shuttle with its crew of four lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on its 12-day flight at 11:29 a.m. EDT. Aboard are the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module and the Robotic Refueling Mission experiment, which could help develop ways to refuel satellites in orbit.

The mission’s focus is to leave the station as well supplied as possible to begin its post-shuttle existence. Atlantis also is scheduled to return a failed ammonia pump to Earth for examination – a task no other spacecraft can do.

Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim, are scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the station on Sunday.

Aboard the station waiting to welcome Atlantis and its crew are Expedition 28 Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev, Ron Garan, Sergei Volkov, Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa.

Raffaello is making its fourth trip to the station. On Monday it will be lifted from the cargo bay and attached to the Harmony node. It will be unloaded there and subsequently loaded with station discards before it is returned to the cargo bay on July 17 for return to Earth.

The Robotic Refueling Mission experiment will be installed during the only spacewalk, by Fossum and Garan, while Atlantis is docked there. The experiment will test concepts, techniques and tools for robotically refueling satellites in orbit. The test will use the station’s robotic capabilities, the first test in space of ways to refuel satellites, including those not designed for such servicing.

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