At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians conduct Computed Radiography (CR) X-ray scans of 50 support beams, called stringers, on the shuttle-facing side of Atlantis' external tank at Launch Pad 39A. The hi-tech images will be taken of the tops and bottoms of the 21-foot long beams, which are located on the tank's intertank section. The scans follow a June 15th tanking test when the launch team filled then drained the tank of about 535,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, just like for a launch. Earlier this year, managers directed teams to make the same stringer modifications to Atlantis' tank, ET-138, as they had after small cracks in the support beams of shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission external tank were discovered. The scans will confirm there are no issues with Atlantis' tank.
STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim are targeted to lift off on space shuttle Atlantis July 8, taking with them the MPLM packed with supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space 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/Jim Grossmann