One of the final space shuttle visits to the International Space Station began at 2:20 p.m. EDT today with the launch of Atlantis and six astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver cargo, critical spare parts, and a Russian laboratory to the station.
The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last planned launch for Atlantis. The Russian-built Mini Research Module-1 is inside the shuttle’s cargo bay. Also known as Rassvet (dawn in Russian), it will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. The laboratory will be attached to the bottom port of the station’s Zarya module.
Commander Ken Ham is joined on the STS-132 mission by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen, and Piers Sellers, all veteran space fliers. Good and Sellers rode Atlantis into orbit on their first space missions in 2009 and 2002, respectively.
The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:27 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 16. The mission’s three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna, and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm.
After completing the 12-day STS-132 mission, the shuttle’s first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 8:44 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 26. STS-132 is the 132nd shuttle flight, the 32nd flight for Atlantis, and the 34th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.
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