Atlantis: The go-forward planNASA is aiming to launch Atlantis and six astronauts on Sept. 6 aftersending the ship back to its launch pad mid-way through a move towardthe shuttle's 52-story assembly building.The agency will be closing Kennedy Space Center to all but essentialpersonnel until Tropical Storm Ernesto passes over central Florida onWednesday.
A damage assemssment team then will be sent into thespaceport, and NASA hopes to restart launch preparations on Thursday.In that case, technicians would validate mechanical, electrical andother connections between the shuttle and its launch pad.Small explosive devices used to seperate the shuttle from its mobilelauncher platform, twin solid rocket boosters and external tank wouldbe reconnected on Friday. The orbiter's main propulsion system andpropellant tanks that feed its 44 nose-and-tail steering jets would bepressurized that day.
A standard three-day countdown would start Sunday. Liftoff on Sept. 6 would come at 12:29 p.m.