Shuttle Atlantis re-targeted for final launch on July 8

CBS News

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--NASA managers Friday re-targeted the shuttle Atlantis' launch on the 135th and final shuttle mission for July 8. The date will be re-assessed at an executive-level flight readiness review June 28.

The shuttle Atlantis, hoisted vertical in the Vehicle Assembly Building for attachment to NASA's last external tank and solid-fuel boosters. (Credit: NASA TV)
Atlantis had been scheduled for launch June 28, but the flight slipped in the wake of a two-week launch delay for the shuttle Endeavour because of an electrical glitch. NASA managers held off setting a new target date for Atlantis pending an inspection to determine the condition of pad 39A after Endeavour's takeoff Monday and work to refine a complex processing schedule that includes a fueling test to verify the integrity of the shuttle's external tank.

But the pad is in relatively good shape and NASA managers Friday decided to press ahead for a launch July 8 at around 11:40 a.m. EDT.

Engineers currently are in the process of attaching Atlantis to its external tank and boosters before rollout to the pad the night of May 31. The trip should still be underway when Endeavour lands at the nearby shuttle runway to close out its 25th and final mission.

Assuming an on-time liftoff, Atlantis commander Christopher Ferguson, pilot Douglas Hurley, Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus will dock with the International Space Station around 11:24 a.m. on Sunday, July 10. One spacewalk by two station crew members is planned for July 12 and if all goes well, Atlantis will undock around 2:23 a.m. on July 18 and land back at the Kennedy Space Center around 6:15 a.m. to close out its 33rd and final mission.