AIR SPACE

Ready for Takeoff: Astronauts Prepare for a Mission

Three hours before lift off, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis left the Operations and Checkout Building in the "Astro Van" and arrived at the launch pad. After donning their spacesuits, the crew members are strapped into their seats and await the Shuttle's takeoff. Here, their morning preparations in pictures. For more on the launch, see our continuing coverage.

Ready for Takeoff

The crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis leave the Operations and Checkout Building and prepare to board the "Astro Van," which will take them to Launch Pad 39A.

NASA TV

Boarding the Astro Van

The crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis leave the Operations and Checkout Building and prepare to board the "Astro Van," which will take them to Launch Pad 39A.

NASA TV

Atlantis on the Launchpad

Atlantis fueling has been underway for several hours, and the official weather forecast remains an optimistic 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions for launch, scheduled to occur at 2:28 p.m. from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

NASA TV

At the Foot of the Shuttle

Astronauts take a few minutes to consider the sheer size of the Shuttle that will take them to the International Space Station. 

NASA TV

Suiting Up

Cool air is pumped into the jackets to control temperatures prior to launch in the white room. When in the spaceship, each astronaut's body temperature is regulated by a liquid cooling system.

NASA TV

The Elevator Up

Astronauts don their spacesuits and ride the elevator to the top of the Shuttle. Only one or two astronauts can ride up at a time; others wait in the white room at the foot of the Shuttle.

NASA TV

Strapping In

Each astronaut is strapped into his chair very carefully. Because they will be strapped info for several hours prior to launch time, ensuring comfort is a crucial step. 

NASA TV

Wear a Seat Belt

Close-out crew members standing on the upright Shuttle adjust seat belts and other gear for the astronauts, who are strapped into their seats several hours prior to take off. 

NASA TV

In the Driver's Seat

Close-out crew members standing on the upright Shuttle adjust seat belts and other gear for the astronauts, who are strapped into their seats several hours prior to take off. 

NASA TV

Awaiting Lift-Off

With preparations complete, Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on the launchpad, ready for lift-off. 

NASA TV

Ready for Takeoff: Astronauts Prepare for a Mission

Three hours before lift off, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis left the Operations and Checkout Building in the "Astro Van" and arrived at the launch pad. After donning their spacesuits, the crew members are strapped into their seats and await the Shuttle's takeoff. Here, their morning preparations in pictures. For more on the launch, see our continuing coverage.

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