Emily LakdawallaMay 11, 2009

Atlantis Exposed to the Heavens -- T Minus 14 Hours from Blast-off to Hubble

Planetary Society volunteer Ken Kremer is reporting for us from the Kennedy Space Center, where he is anticipating the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Hubble Space Telescope on May 11. Kremer is a research scientist and freelance journalist who spends his spare time giving public outreach presentations on behalf of The Planetary Society as a volunteer and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Solar System Ambassador. He also enjoys creating Mars mosaics. Thanks Ken!

Space Shuttle Atlantis has been exposed for flight on Sunday evening May 10 after the retraction of the Rotation Service Structure (RSS). I am reporting directly from just outside the perimeter security fence at Launch Pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center on a glorious but steamy Florida afternoon with not a cloud in the sky. Starting at about 5:20 PM the press contingent witnessed the start of the RSS retraction by the NASA launch pad staff. It took about 25 minutes for the massive structure to pivot 120 degrees away from the orbiter and into its launch position.

Awaiting Retraction

Awaiting Retraction

e await the start of retraction of the protective Rotating Service Structure (RSS) at Pad 39 A at KSC on May 10, 2009
Atlantis during retraction

Atlantis during retraction

tlantis begins to reveal herself about 10 minutes into RSS retraction.
Atlantis at dusk

Atlantis at dusk

pace Shuttle Atlantis at dusk at Launch Pad 39 A, RSS retracted at left. Less than 16 hours from launch to save the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope will be flying directly over the Kennedy Space Center if Atlantis launches as scheduled at 2:01 PM on May 11. Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters said the weather forecast has improved to "90% Go" for Monday. In the event of a delay, the weather outlook is reduced to "60% Go" on Tuesday and Wednesday with a threat of thunderstorms moving in.

May 10 Press briefing

May 10 Press briefing

t May 10 KSC Press Briefing, the Atlantis orbiter, Hubble instrument payload and weather outlook are all declared "Go" for launch in less than 24 hours by Charlie Blackwell-Thompson (left), Debbie Hahn and Kathy Winters.
Ken and Atlantis

Ken and Atlantis

en Kremer and Atlantis at Launch Pad 39 A after RSS retraction completed.

"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

Sign up for email updates