Atlantis's Last Mission Countdown Begins

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 11 (UPI) — The countdown to the launch of space shuttle Atlantis started Tuesday as controllers reported to their stations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The countdown clocks started counting back from the T-43 hour mark at 4 p.m. EDT toward the start of the shuttle’s last mission into space. The STS-132, 12-day mission to the International Space station will include three spacewalks and the delivery of an integrated cargo carrier and a Russian-built research module.

Atlantis’ six astronauts arrived at Kennedy Monday evening, landing in four T-38 jets. The crew members Tuesday reviewed flight day file material and took part in a checkout of their orange launch-and-entry suits.

At Launch Pad 39A, technicians closed Atlantis’ payload bay doors in preparation for Friday’s 2:20 p.m. EDT launch.

“Teams at the Kennedy Space Center and at other centers around the country have been working very hard to get this vehicle ready to fly, and I am happy to report everything is going quite well at (the launch pad),” NASA Test Director Steve Payne said. “Atlantis, crew and launch team are ready to go and looking forward to a beautiful launch Friday afternoon.”

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