Atlantis Shuttle Astronauts Prepare for Nov. 16 Launch
The six STS-129 astronauts after arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Nov. 12.
Credit: NASA TV

The six astronauts preparing to blast off on the space shuttle Atlantis Monday have arrived at NASA?s Florida spaceport to prepare for launch.

The crewmembers flew to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 12:35 p.m. Thursday on a modified from a Gulfstream jet with just four days remaining before their planned launch into space.

"It?s a real honor and pleasure to be here," commander Charlie Hobaugh said just after disembarking. "This has been obviously the culmination of at least nine months of us being together as a crew."

The astronauts are slated to lift off on Atlantis from Launch Pad 39A on Nov. 16 at 2:28 p.m. EST (1928 GMT) for an 11-day mission to the International Space Station.

"As we flew in just now we saw the orbiter on the pad, Atlantis looking bright and shiny," said pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore, who will be making his first trip to space.

"This is my second time flying on Atlantis," said mission specialist Leland Melvin. "It's a great opportunity. We're very blessed to be here, as well as just to have the opportunity to fly in space."

During their STS-129 mission the spaceflyers plan to deliver vital spare parts to the station to help prepare for the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in the next year or so. Three spacewalks are planned.

The astronauts are hoping for clear skies next week, since they have only a short time range to launch before the shuttle must stand down around Nov. 19 or 20 due to unfavorable sun angles at the space station, which can cause heating and power concerns, agency officials have said.

"It?s a beautiful day here in Florida and we're really excited about Monday coming up," said mission specialist Robert Satcher Jr.

Atlantis' liftoff will be the agency's fifth shuttle launch of the year ? the most in a single year since 2002.

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