By: Pat Prescott - Staff Writer
Published: Jun 16, 2021

The Shuttle Atlantis Gets Last Launch Test

On Wedensday Nasa fueled the shuttle Atlantis to check for malfunctions and leaks. This will be the last test for the space shuttle leading up to its last flight set to take off on July 8th. Crews had made repairs to the external fuel tank and wanted to make sure all was good and no cracks pop up in any of the support brackets.

Preliminary checks indicated no cracking. However, a valve for one of the three main engines recorded lower-than-normal temperatures during the tanking operation, indicating a possible hydrogen fuel leak. The engine was isolated, and the test continued. NASA officials said, even if the valve needs replaced, they believe they can make a July 8 launch.

Wednesday’s fueling operation was delayed several hours by thunderstorms that pounded Cape Canaveral on Tuesday. Three lightning strikes were reported near the pad. Preliminary checks show nothing was damaged, although a power circuit went offline.

Not only is this just the last flight for Atlantis, it will be the 135th and last flight in the 30 yearlong shuttle program. NASA is under presidential direction to shift from orbital flights to expeditions beyond. Which will require a newer and different type of spacecraft. A countdown rehearsal for the final flight will be conducted next week with the four Atlantis astronauts.


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