The launch team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the crew members of STS-122 concluded a successful dress rehearsal Tuesday for the upcoming launch of space shuttle Atlantis.
The real event is targeted for Dec. 6 on a flight to the International Space Station, but astronauts and flight managers and contractors routinely run through a complete practice to get ready for a liftoff.
NASA astronaut Steve Frick led his crew through the same activities they will conduct on launch day, including getting on orange pressure suits, riding to the launch pad in the astrovan and strapping into Atlantis.
NASA astronauts Alan Poindexter, Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim took their places on the flight deck of Atlantis along with Frick.
There are two European astronauts also taling part in the mission. Hans Schlegel and Leopold Eyharts reclined in their seats on the lower deck. “For us Europeans, it is a special event,” Schlegel said. “For me personally, it is an honor and a duty and a joy for this team to bring up this unit and activate it in orbit.”
Atlantis is scheduled to spend at least 11 days in orbit. Three spacewalks are planned while the shuttle is docked at the station, to deliver and install the European Space Agency’s Columbus module to the ISS.
You can read more technical details of the space shuttle as an aircraft in our earlier post.