Sunday, November 15, 2009

NASA readies space shuttle Atlantis for Monday launch

Updated on : Sunday, November 15, 2009

WASHINGTON: The US space agency was readying for the launch Monday of the space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts to deliver equipment that will maintain the nearly completed International Space Station.

Lift-off is set for 1928 GMT from the Kennedy Space Centre near Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA said Saturday.

"Atlantis is ready to go, in really great shape," said shuttle launch manager Mike Moses at a press conference broadcast on NASA television.

"Here at Kennedy Space Center weather should be very good," said Meteorologist Kathy Winters, adding that there was just a ten percent chance of weather prohibiting the launch.

Captained by Marine Corps colonel Charlie Hobaugh, the all-male crew arrived Thursday at Kennedy Space Center from Houston, Texas, where the astronauts are based.

The shuttle mission is set to include three spacewalks aimed at storing space hardware on the exterior of the orbiting outpost.

The 11-day space outing will be the fifth and last shuttle mission for 2009.

There are just five more shuttle launches scheduled before the planned September 2010 retirement of the fleet.

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