The launch pad's protective rotating service structure will be closed around the shuttle tonight to create a sealed environment for launch pad teams to begin support preparations for Atlantis' November 12th launch, including attaching and securing the payload items. Unfavourable sun angles at the ISS limit the viable launch dates to before November 19th, and if NASA is succesful in launching Atlantis before the end of the year it will bring the tally to five - the most since 2002. This is a notable achievement given the increased processing workload it imposed after the Columbia tragedy.
The STS-129 astronauts are scheduled to fly to Kennedy on Oct. 19 to participate in the three-day Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, which gives the crew an opportunity to check the fit of their spacesuits, practice emergency evacuation procedures at the launch pad, review firefighting methods and participate in a simulated launch countdown.
In the above picture on the front row are astronauts Charlie Hobaugh (left), commander; and Barry Wilmore, pilot. From the left (back row) are astronauts Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher and Randy Bresnik, all mission specialists.
Keep an eye on NASATV as they cover activities in the runup to the launch.
Happy Spacing Spacers!