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Shuttle Launch Preps



Lightning ushers in shuttle crew
Atlantis' team arrives safely at KSC
By Steven Siceloff and Kelly Young
FLORIDA TODAY
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Shuttle Atlantis' crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center 
Monday night, encountering some fierce lightning while landing but escaping 
unscathed. 

"You have no idea . . . how great it is to be on the ground at KSC," said 
Atlantis commander Terry Wilcutt, motioning to the lightning flashes above 
him. 

Wilcutt and the other six crew members flew in on five training aircraft, 
which are used to transport astronauts and cosmonauts between Johnson Space 
Center in Houston and KSC. 

After arriving amid the lightning around 8 p.m., the crew spoke briefly to 
reporters before being taken to the nearby crew quarters, where they will 
stay during the week. 

Now that they're here, the Atlantis crew will go through a range of 
activities to prepare them for the launch to the International Space Station, 
which is scheduled between 8:45 and 8:47 a.m. Friday. 

This 11-day mission will be a supply run, with the delivery of about 5,000 
pounds of items to prepare the station for the arrival of the first 
three-member crew later this year. 

In addition to Wilcutt, the crew includes pilot Scott Altman; astronauts Ed 
Lu, Rick Mastracchio and Dan Burbank; and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko 
and Boris Morukov. 

"It feels to me a lot more real, a lot more immediate, and I can't wait to 
get going," Burbank said, comparing his feelings this time to other trips 
here as part of his mission training. Burbank, as well as Mastracchio and 
Morukov, are making their first flights into space. 

"The closer I get to the vehicle (Atlantis), the more excited I get," 
Mastracchio said. 

A highlight of the mission will be a spacewalk in the early morning of Sept. 
11, when Lu and Malenchenko will climb the 11-story station, connecting 
scores of communications cables and wires. 

This Atlantis mission and an Atlantis voyage in May initially were to have 
been one mission. But because of constant delays tied to the station, the 
mission was split in two. 

Now, the station is on track after the arrival of Russia's key Zvezda Service 
Module in July. The Zvezda is providing living quarters, as well as power 
that is needed to keep the space-research outpost in a safe orbit a couple 
hundred miles above Earth. 

On this mission, the Atlantis crew will be delivering many supplies, 
including food and clothing, to Zvezda, making sure the module is in good 
shape when the first crew arrives in November. 

After completing the mission, the Atlantis is due back at KSC in the early 
morning of Sept. 19. 

The Atlantis journey into space will be the third from KSC this year. The 
Endeavour crew in February mapped the world's topography, and the Atlantis 
crew in May did construction work on the station and delivered supplies. 

Two other missions are scheduled to the station before year's end: the 
Discovery in early October and the Endeavour in late November. 


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