While firefighters tapped out a grass fire across the road from Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center slated Shuttle Atlantis for its final journey to the ISS. Shuttle Atlantis’s preliminary launch date is set for 11:40 a.m. EDT on July 8, 2011. Atlantis still must pass the Flight Readiness Review scheduled for June 28, 2011 after which the official launch date will be announced.
The Atlantis crew: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialist Rex Walheim and Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, call themselves “The Final Four”. Why only four instead of six or seven space travelers for the shuttle’s final journey? In the event of an emergency rendering the Shuttle Atlantis useless as a return vehicle, the crew of four have been retrofitted with a Russian Sokol pressure suit and molded Soyuz seat liner for a safe return aboard a Soyuz capsule.
Atlantis’s goal is to transport the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module along with supplies and space parts to the ISS.