Astronauts Enjoy Very Slow Shuttle Ride

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 22 (UPI) — NASA astronauts who will soon roar into space aboard space shuttle Atlantis said they enjoyed taking a slow shuttle trip to the launch pad.

The astronauts rode part of the way with their spacecraft early Thursday during its 6 1/2-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A on NASA’s giant crawler-transporter.

“Riding the crawler last night was absolutely fantastic,” said Cmdr. Ken Ham. He said the crawler, powered by destroyer ship engines, reminded him of a Navy ship, even though it moves across gravel instead of rolling waves.

Because of time constraints, few crews arrive at Kennedy in time to watch the shuttle rollout, NASA officials said, but in this case the rollout had been postponed a few nights because of poor weather at Kennedy.

The STS-132 astronauts are at the space center for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test — a multi-day training exercise that offers the crew and launch teams a full simulation of pre-launch activities.

Atlantis is scheduled to lift off May 14 at 2:19 p.m. EDT.

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