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Atlantis fueled for afternoon launch.

<div class="imageBox" style="width: 420px;"><img id="7524" class="imgPhoto" src="http://img.ibtimes.com/www/data/articles/full/2009/11/16/7524.jpg" alt="The rotating service structure at Launch Pad 39A sparkles with lights as it is moved away from the space shuttle Atlantis on Sunday night in preparation for launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA)" width="420" />

<div class="caption">The rotating service structure at Launch Pad 39A sparkles with lights as it is moved away from the space shuttle Atlantis on Sunday night in preparation for launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA)</div>

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The Atlantis space shuttle has been fueled and is ready for blast off later on Monday for its 11-day mission trip.

The Atlantis is scheduled to lift off at 2:28 p.m. ET from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla to the International Space Station.

Forecasters reduced the chances of acceptable weather for launch slightly, from 90 percent to 70 percent, but Atlantis will still take off with its seven crew members.

"This mission is very important to ensuring the ISS is fully supported with spare parts before the space shuttle fleet retires," said Joy Bryant, vice president and program manager for Boeing's International Space Station program.

"The station has exceeded our expectations from a life-cycle design standpoint. These spare parts will ensure the station remains operational for many years to come as we start ramping up science activities on the national lab."

The commander of Atlantis will be Charlie Hobaugh, a colonel in the US marines, and he will be accompanied by five other crew members; pilot Butch Willmore, and mission specialist's Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman, Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher.

They will return to Earth with a seventh crew member, Nicole Stott, who's been living at the space station for nearly three months.

The 129th shuttle mission would be the last of five flights this year, and one of six remaining before NASA plans to end the program.

The mission is to bring more than 27000 pounds of supplies to the ISS including refurbished gyroscopes, pumps and ammonia and nitrogen tanks.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 16, 2009
Words:367
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