NASA set for last shuttle launch of 2007
U.S. space agency crews were busy Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center, preparing for the fourth and final space shuttle launch of 2007.
From astronauts practicing shuttle landings to engineers and technicians running tests on space shuttle Atlantis, National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials said the countdown to Thursday's scheduled 4:31 p.m. EST liftoff of STS-122 was proceeding smoothly.
The fueling of Atlantis with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen began Tuesday night and the rotating service structure that protects the space shuttle and its payload were to be moved from around Atlantis Wednesday night.
NASA weather officer Kathy Winters said the forecast for the launch was excellent, calling for a 90 percent probability of acceptable conditions.
Atlantis commander Steve Frick and pilot Alan Poindexter practiced simulated landings Tuesday in the Shuttle Training Aircraft -- a heavily modified Gulfstream II business jet that mimics an orbiter gliding back to Earth.
During the 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the seven STS-122 astronauts will install the Columbus laboratory. The 23-foot-long cylinder is the European Space Agency's primary contribution to the space research facility. The lab is to operate for at least 10 years. // Copyright 2007 by United Press International