Posted by Raimondo Pictet | 0 comments
Watch NASA’s live feed of STS-132
This is it. The beginning of the end. Atlantis will lift off for the last time May 14, 2:20 p.m. EDT. It’s Atlantis’ last launch, and Atlantis will be the first Space Shuttle to retire. This is a very symbolic moment for everyone working at NASA, since the Space Shuttle has been the only way Americans have been independently accessing space for nearly thirty years.
NASA describes STS-132 insignia as follows: “The crew patch features Atlantis flying off into the sunset as the end of the Space Shuttle Program approaches. However the sun also is heralding the promise of a new day as it rises for the first time on a new space station module, the MRM-1.”
Atlantis will deliver one of the last Russian components to the station, MRM-1 (Mini Research Module 1, also known as Rassvet). It will provide yet another docking port for the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. As the Space Shuttles retire, the station will only be accessible via Soyuz capsules. A radiator, and airlock and a European robotic arm will be attached to Rassvet’s exterior. The new module’s refueling system will also enable docked Progess cargo vehicles to transfer their fuel to the Zarya module’s tank.
The crew is exclusively composed of veterans. Commander Kenneth T. Ham explains “Probably one of our biggest saving graces is that we don’t have any rookies on our crew. They’ve all flown before. In fact, [mission specialist] Piers Sellers has flown twice before. So that’s a lot of experience. They’ve been through this whole training flow before and when it comes down to our compressed schedule it makes it really easy for me to make positive argument deals, if you will, with the training side saying, ‘Hey, we don’t need to do this particular training here. We’ve all flown before,’ and typically I’ll be allowed to win those arguments.”
Three spacewalks are planned to be acheived by Garrett Reisman, Steve Bowen, and Michael Good (each performing twice). They will attach spare parts outside the station (including six spare batteries, a microwave antenna and spare parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm). “We have to get the MRM1 out of the payload bay with the [European] robotic arm and get it installed,” Michael Good explains. ” We have a lot of transfer to do so it’s just going to be a busy time and I think that’ll add to the complexity of each of the tasks that we don’t have as much time when we’re up there on station”
If the weather is clear, Atlantis will take off from pad 39A on 14 May,18:20 UTC / 2:20 p.m. EDT.
When asked how he thought the space shuttle was going to be remembered in the future, Piers Sellers answered “[The Space] Shuttle has some delicacies, as you know, but it’s been a very successful vehicle and has done an awful lot for the U.S. space program – built the station basically – and I think that’s what’ll go down in history, that it built space station.”
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