Space Shuttle Atlantis carrying Euro science lab prepares to go


Is alive.
Wackbag Staff
Aug 14, 2000
Shuttle carrying Euro science lab prepares to go

Shuttle carrying Euro science lab prepares to go
Thu Dec 6, 2007 1:29am EST

By Maggie Fox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Engineers made final touches to the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis before its launch later on Thursday to carry a European science lab and two European astronauts to the International Space Station.

The fourth shuttle mission in six months looked set to go off without a hitch, with clear skies forecast for the 4:31 p.m. EST launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

The Rotating Service Structure, monstrous scaffolding that encloses the shuttle and gives workers access when it is on the launch pad, was rolled back soon after darkness fell on Wednesday evening.

"The vehicle's looking good and the weather's looking good, too," shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters said in a statement.

Fueling was scheduled for 7:06 a.m. (1206 GMT) on Thursday.

That process is now held until the last possible moment as freezing fuel was blamed for cracking the foam off the external tank that damaged the shuttle Columbia in 2003, causing it to break apart during its return from space, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The current mission will carry Columbus, a European Space Agency science module that can hold 10 telephone booth-sized racks of experiments.

One called Biolab will be used for experiments on microbes, cells, small plants and insects. An experiment using salmonella bacteria carried on Atlantis in 2006 showed the germs became more virulent in low gravity.

Another module will be used to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, including the brain and heart, while a third will test the dynamics of fluids in zero gravity.


It will take most of the shuttle crew's week-long stay at the space station to get Columbus attached. French astronaut Leopold Eyharts will stay aboard the outpost for about 2-1/2 months to get the lab ready.

Eyharts, 50, and Hans Schlegel, 56, of Germany will join Americans Steve Frick, Alan Poindexter, Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim and Stanley Love on the mission.

They are space veterans -- Eyharts spent three weeks aboard Russia's now-defunct Mir space station in 1998 and Schlegel flew on a German-sponsored Spacelab flight in 1993.

"The most interesting questions to me will be 'How much will my body remember? How much will I be able to cope with all these difficulties (of adapting to space) so I can go on and do the other necessary tasks?'" Schlegel said in an interview.

Among his duties will be two spacewalks with Walheim to attach Columbus to the station.

Thursday's launch of Atlantis will be NASA's 24th shuttle mission to the $100 billion, multinational space station, with nine more assembly flights and two resupply missions remaining before the U.S. space agency retires the shuttle fleet in 2010.

Atlantis is scheduled to fly its final mission in August, a servicing call to keep the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope operational for a few more years.

NASA is developing new, capsule-style spaceships called Orion to go to the space station, as well as to the moon and other destinations.

(Additional reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Jane Sutton and John O'Callaghan)


There's nothing quite like a shorn scrotum.
Nov 12, 2004
Queens, NY
The launch got scrubbed today and rescheduled for Friday, December 8, 2007, at 4:09PM.

A fun fact, here in NYC you may have the chance to see the shuttle's flight. I subscribe to various emails from the American Museum of Natural History and I got this today;

Below is an update on today's (Thursday, December 7, 2007) visibility
of Space Shuttle Atlantis from within a 75-mile radius of New York City

I note that the Shuttle's peak altitude will be a mere 8.5 degrees
above the horizon. For comparison, your fist at arm's length spans 10-
degrees on the sky. ( People with big hands tend to have long arms.
So this relationship between fist and angle works nicely for most
humans.) So your view of the south-west to south-east skies needs to
be cloudless and unobstructed.

As always, keep looking up - but in this case, stay low.

Neil deGrasse Tyson


Supplied by Joe Rao, of course.

For those who will be looking for Shuttle Atlantis locally after it is
launched Thursday afternoon, here are some sighting details that I
have worked up for New York City . . . these should be helpful to
anyone within a 75-mile radius of Manhattan. This all assumes an
on-time launch at 4:31:44 p.m. EST.

I would not expect the Shuttle to become visible until after it gets
higher than 5-degrees above the horizon. So in theory, we should have
about a 2 and a half minute "window" for visibility.

Time Altitude Azimuth Mission Time
------ ---- ----- -----------
4:36:24 0.1-deg 199.9-deg. (SSW) 280-sec.
4:38:44 4.9-deg 180.3-deg. (S) 420-sec.
4:40:14 8.5-deg 129.4-deg. (SE) 510-sec.
4:41:14 5.0-deg 92.8-deg. (E) 570-sec.
4:42:14 1.0-deg 75.8-deg. (ENE) 630-sec.

Joe Rao
Hayden Associate.


To add your name to the Hayden Panetarium's
"Star-Struck" e-list, where you will recieve timely
notices of cosmic happenings at the Museum
and in the sky, send a blank e-mail to:

I plan on being on my building's roof to see if I can get a glimpse.