"Absolutely Amazing" Launch Sends Space Shuttle Atlantis on its Final Voyage
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May. 14, 2010) -- A delegation of Space Foundation employees witnessed the May 14 launch of NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis as it headed for the International Space Station (ISS) on its final mission.
"I am speechless," said Media Specialist Carol Hively, upon watching her first launch. It was "absolutely amazing," according to Special Assistant Programs & Policy Kaye Kerr.
"This was worth waiting 29 years for," said Director - Information Technology Fred Colclough, who holds what may be the record for failed attempts to witness a Space Shuttle launch. Colclough had previously made 13 attempts to witness a launch in person, only to have missions scrubbed, postponed, or canceled. An ardent space fan even before joining the Space Foundation, Colclough has watched every launch on television. Ironically, Atlantis' final launch was Colclough's first success.
Atlantis will deliver cargo, spare parts, and a Russian-built mini research module to the ISS. The mission is the third of five planned for 2010 and the last for Atlantis. Known as Rassvet (dawn in Russian), the module will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.
The STS-132 crew comprises Commander Ken Ham, Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen, and Piers Sellers, all veteran astronauts. Both Good's and Sellers' first missions were on Atlantis, in 2009 and 2002, respectively.
Atlantis is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 10:27 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 16. The mission's three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components, including six batteries, a communications antenna, and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm, outside the station.
After completing the 12-day mission, the shuttle's first landing opportunity is 8:44 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26. STS-132 is the 132nd Shuttle flight, the 32nd flight for Atlantis, and the 34th Space Shuttle mission dedicated to ISS assembly and maintenance.
Photo by Space Foundation Senior Web Developer/Designer Christopher Stevens