Monday, November 16, 2009

Today, Monday Nov 16th, at 1:28PM CST, Space Shuttle Atlantis will be launched into low earth orbit where it will rendezvous
with the International Space Station to deliver a heavy payload of spare equipment. With the shuttle program being ended in
a few years, only a few scheduled missions remain before America loses it's ability to launch citizens into space, requiring
us to rely on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for several years (perhaps as long as a decade) before our newest fleet of rockets
is ready to blast off.

On board the STS-129 will be carrying "two pump modules, two control moment gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, an
ammonia tank assembly, a high-pressure gas tank, a latching end effector for the station’s robotic arm and a trailing umbilical
system reel assembly for the railroad cart that allows the arm to move along the station’s truss system. There’s also a power
control unit, a plasma container unit, a cargo transportation container and a battery charge/discharge unit. In all, that’s
27,250 pounds worth of spares to keep the station going long after the shuttles retire."

So strap in, take a five minute break and watch as we launch several tons of equipment, and several people off of our planet
at 1,020.87 meters per second.

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