Sunday, June 3, 2007

After having its launch delayed three months due to damage caused by hail stones during a storm, Space Shuttle Atlantis has been given the green light by NASA to launch on June 8.

“NASA’s senior managers have signed the Certification of Flight Readiness confirming that Space Shuttle Atlantis, her flight crew and payloads are fit to fly,” said a statement posted on NASA’s website.

Atlantis’s main engines, orbital maneuvering system and forward reaction control system was pressurized this past weekend and the crew’s equipment has been put into stowage.

NASA plans to launch Atlantis despite a vote reached by the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, IAMAW, a union that is representing 570 workers that work with the shuttle program, but according to a union spokeswoman, the strike is not going to affect the launching of Atlantis.

“The bottom line is, a strike would not affect the next launch or the next one after that,” said IAMAW spokeswoman, Tracy Yates. The union voted down a contract because the workers believed that NASA’s wage offer is “substandard.”

Atlantis will deliver equipment to the International Space Station and to make repairs to it. Commanding Atlantis for its mission will be Rick Sturckow and Lee Archambault will serve as Atlantis’ pilot. Mission Specialists James Reilly, Steven Swanson, John Olivas and Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson round out the crew to deliver the S3/S4 starboard truss segments, batteries and another pair of solar arrays to the space station.