Fri, September 05, 2008
Sci-Tech > Science

U.S. space shuttle Atlantis moved to launch pad

2008-09-04 20:40:57 GMT2008-09-05 04:40:57 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NASA workers watch as the space shuttle Atlantis makes the three-mile trip from the vehicle assembly building to launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida September 4, 2008.

The space shuttle Atlantis leaves the vehicle assembly building on its way to launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida September 4, 2008.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space shuttle Atlantis was moved to its Florida launch pad on Thursday, waiting there for a flight to the Hubble telescope next month.

Rolling slow and steady atop an carrier vehicle, Atlantis headed for its Pad 39A launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA TV showed.

"It's going very well," said NASA spokesperson Candrea Thomas. But a technical problem with the hookup between the shuttle and its external fuel tank might stalled the launch pad operations.

In the mean time, NASA officials is tracking a series of tropical storms over the Atlantic ocean. Tropical storm Hanna is expected to have little impact on the Atlantis' launch preparations. Two other storms Ike and Josephine currently are making their way east across the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantis is now scheduled to launch toward Hubble on Oct. 8, carrying seven astronauts on an 11-day mission to overhaul the orbital observatory for the fifth and final time.

The mission was canceled following the 2003 Columbia disaster because of safety concerns, but reinstated by a new NASA regime.

To ensure crewmembers' safety, NASA will prepare a second shuttle, Endeavour, be at the launch pad and ready to fly if Atlantis suffered critical damage and the Hubble crew should need an alternative way home.

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