NASA Prepares Shuttle Atlantis For Final Journey Into Space

May 14th, 2010 - 11:16 pm ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

May 14 (THAINDIAN NEWS) In Cape Canaveral, Florida this morning, the weather was partly cloudy and expected to clear into a warm, and beautiful sunny day. Puffy clouds flitted sparsely across clear blue skies, as the scent of sea air sweetened the atmosphere. Seagulls crying in the distance added to the ambiance as the Space Shuttle Atlantis was prepared by NASA for it’s final flight into space. Forecasters expect a 70 percent chance of good weather, and say that will increase as the day goes on.

Blast off is expected to occur at 2:20 pm. The launch team began pumping over 500,000 gallons of fuel into the huge external tank before the sun had yet risen, and the six astronauts who are due to be on board the space craft were just waking up. There will be no women on board this flight, and the men ate a very hearty breakfast before their twelve day mission. Three crew members ate rare steaks with french fries and two others ate sandwiches. The remaining member had a cheeseburger.

This will be the last mission for the space shuttle Atlantis, leaving NASA with two other flights remaining after this one, which will be made by the Discovery and the Endeavor. The thirty year space flight program is expected to be ended by 2011, according to NASA’s hopes. This is the 32nd trip for the Atlantis, which was sent into orbit for the first time in 1985. This is NASA’s 132nd overall space shuttle flight.

Atlantis is loaded with fresh batteries and a new Russian made compartment to create more room at the space station. It’s 20 foot module is also packed with food, laptop computers, and other United States supplies, which was part of a deal that was reached by the two countries’ space agencies. The module containing the items is so full that it will simply be offloaded at the station, and then left packed until the Atlantis is gone.

Crowds were already gathered at the launch site before the sun rose over Kennedy Space Center. David Letterman, many other celebrities, many Russians, and 150 Tweeters will witness the shuttle’s last flight into space. This is the second time Tweeters have been allowed at the launch site in an effort to spread the news about the space program and get more Americans interested, since the shuttle program is shutting down. The space station will remain in operation until 2020, hoping to give US private enterprise time to get astronauts into orbit. The final resting place for Atlantis is most likely to be a yet undecided museum located somewhere in the United States of America.

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