Atlantis Astronauts Put Safety First in Launch Training

Atlantis Astronauts Put Safety First in Launch Training
STS-117 commander Rick Sturckow, at the microphone, speaks to the media on Feb. 21, 2007. With him, from the left, are Mission Specialists James Reilly, Danny Olivas, Steven Swanson and Patrick Forrester, and Pilot Lee Archambault. (Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.)

CAPE CANAVERAL - The Atlantisastronauts will go through emergency training at Kennedy Space Center today as NASA prepares for a planned mid-March launch of an InternationalSpace Station assembly mission.

Riding an elevator up tothe 195-foot-level of the launch complex 39A gantry, the astronauts will checkout a tower escape system they would use in the event of an emergency on launchday.

The astronauts also willdrive an armored personnel carrier they would use to rush to a nearby helipadif an injured crewmate needed to be flown to a hospital.

A two-day practicecountdown also is on tap this week.

Shuttle skipper RickSturckow said his crew is ready for the traditional training exercises,which every shuttle crew takes part in before launch.

"We've got a prettybusy schedule," Sturckow said after the astronauts arrived at KSC onWednesday. "Lots of good training."

Pilot LeeArchambault and mission specialists JamesReilly, StevenSwanson, PatrickForrester and DannyOlivas round out the crew.

The astronauts arescheduled to launch March 15 on a mission to delivera 17.5-ton truss segment to the station. Three spacewalks are planned. SaidReilly: "We're looking forward to a fantastic flight."

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Aerospace Journalist

Todd Halvoron is a veteran aerospace journalist based in Titusville, Florida who covered NASA and the U.S. space program for 27 years with Florida Today. His coverage for Florida Today also appeared in USA Today, and 80 other newspapers across the United States. Todd earned a bachelor's degree in English literature, journalism and fiction from the University of Cincinnati and also served as Florida Today's Kennedy Space Center Bureau Chief during his tenure at Florida Today. Halvorson has been an independent aerospace journalist since 2013.