Update 2: Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station:
Update 1: Check out some amazing launch photos in the STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis gallery.
November 16, 2009 at 19:28:08 GMT, NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its 31st flight and the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Atlantis is scheduled to dock with the ISS on November 18, after a two-day chase in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). After nearly two years, orbiter Atlantis is set to make a return to the ISS, following the extremely successful flagship mission (STS-125) to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in May 2009.
Six crew members of STS-129, commanded by NASA veteran Charles O. Hobaugh (STS-104, STS-118), will stay in space 10 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes and land at the Kennedy Space Center at 14:43 GMT on November 27. STS-129 Pilot, Barry E.Wilmore, will be responsible for orbiter systems operations and will fly the orbiter during undocking and the flyaround. Mission Specialists Mike Foreman (STS-123), Robert L.Satcher Jr., and Randy Bresnik will combine for a total of 31 hours and 45 minutes during 3 planed spacewalks (EVA) on flight days 4, 6, and 8. Mission Specialist Leland D. Melvin (STS-122) will operate the robotic arm during EVA-1 and EVA-3.
The STS-129 mission carries two ExPRESS Logistic Carries (ELC’s) , a new Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) carrier, an S-Band Antenna Sub-Assembly (SASA), 14 tons of important spare parts for electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, communications and robotics systems, additional equipment, supplies and scientific experiments.
At the end of the STS-129 mission, Atlantis will bring home Expedition 20 and 21 Flight engineer Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole), who will become the last astronaut who used the Space Shuttle for a lift to or from the station (as a member of the station’s Expedition crew).
Many of the missions Detailed Test Objectives (DTOs) are aimed to provide additional information for engineers working for the Constellation Program to developer requirements for the rocket and crew module.
The next mission to the ISS will be STS-130 (ISS assembly flight 20A), planned to launch on February 4, 2010 at 10:52 GMT by the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The primary payloads will be the Tranquility module and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the station
The next, and last scheduled, flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be the STS-132 (ISS assembly flight ULF4) scheduled for launch on May 14, 2010 at 19:28 GMT. The primary payload is scheduled to be the Russian Rassvet Mini-Research Module along with an Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD) containing a radiator, airlock and a spare elbow for the European Robotic Arm for the Russian Multi-purpose Laboratory Module.