After sunset, lights glow on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as space shuttle Atlantis awaits delivery of the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module (MPLM) in its transportation canister. Once delivered, the canister will be lifted to the payload changeout room. The payload ground-handling mechanism then will be used to transfer Raffaello out of the canister into Atlantis' payload bay. Next, the rotating service structure that protects the shuttle from the elements and provides access will be rotated back into place.
Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim are targeted to lift off on Atlantis July 8, taking with them the MPLM packed with supplies, logistics and spare parts to the station. The STS-135 mission also will fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing satellites and return a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems. STS-135 will be the 33rd flight of Atlantis, the 37th shuttle mission to the space station, and the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. For more information visit, www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts135/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux