NASA has selected a tentative launch date for space shuttle Atlantis’ 11-day flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center.
Space agency officials said the Nov. 16 launch at 2:28 p.m. EST is dependent on the planned Nov. 14 launch of an Atlas V rocket from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. If the Atlas launch is delayed to Nov. 15, the shuttle’s liftoff will move to no earlier than 2:02 p.m. EST on Nov. 17, NASA said.
“The STS-129 mission will focus on storing spare hardware on the exterior of the space station,” NASA said in a statement. “The flight will include three spacewalks and (installation of) two platforms on the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will hold spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttle fleet is retired.”
Commander Charlie Hobaugh and his crew of five astronauts are to arrive at Kennedy at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, for final launch preparations. Joining Archambault on STS-129 will be Pilot Barry Wilmore and astronauts Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher.
Nicole Stott, an astronaut who is currently on the space station, will return to Earth with the Atlantis crew after living in space for more than two months. Her return on the shuttle will mark the final time it is used to rotate space station crew members