April 6th, 2011

STS-134 launch has been postponed to April the 29th at 3:47 p.m. EDT due to a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress. In the meanwhile, the inspection team determined that no repair is needed to the external fuel tank after the storms that hit Cape Canaveral area last week. The Flight Readiness Review has been rescheduled on the April 19th, when NASA launch managers will select an official launch date.

Anyway, from Saturday March 26th AMS-02 is ready in the shuttle bay!

After a slow and safe lift inside the Canister that brought AMS-02  to the Pad on Monday March 21st, the experiment was loaded on the Payload Changeout Room (PCR), it was extracted from the Canister and finally it was installed in the shuttle bay, where power and data interface to shuttle checkout was positively completed and the conditioning system was set up. Meanwhile, on March 29, STS-134 Astronauts started their Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test Dress rehearsal.

The pictures you can see below tell the story of AMS-02 last days at SSPF and Pad better than any word: they are only a sample of the incredible images taken during the last 15 days by our photographer Michele Famiglietti.

The Canister lift from SSPF to Pad 39A took place on March 21st. At night it was mounted on the Payload Changeout Room (PCR), a huge structure that allow payloads extraction from the Canister and loading into the shuttle bay.

After the PCR rotation the payloads were loaded into the Endeavour by the Payload Ground Handling Mechanism (PGHM). In the picture above you can see the Canister hanging on the left and the shuttle with her tanks on the right: if you were to take a picture today, the Shuttle would be hidden by the structure on the left now rotated counter-clockwise of 90 degrees.

Payloads operations are performed by mechanical arms carefully driven by people dressed like the one in the picture below: to move AMS-02 a few centimeters could take hours!

With crew pre-launching training activities ongoing, next AMS-02 operations will be dedicated almost only to software tests and remote control enhancement. The detector final check-out is scheduled for April 7th – 11th: stay tuned on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr!