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Shuttle Atlantis lumbers to launchpad after misstep

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Atlantis rolls out at Kennedy Space Center  

(CNN) -- The space shuttle Atlantis began a slow lumber to a Kennedy Space Center launchpad Wednesday morning, the day after NASA managers ditched the first rollout attempt.

The shuttle is being readied for a flight later this month to deliver the main science laboratory module to the international space station.

Atlantis, rumbling along on top of a massive crawler at less than 1 mph, should reach the launchpad Wednesday afternoon, said Joel Wells, spokesperson for Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA engineers tried to roll out the shuttle Tuesday morning, but a computer problem with a crawler forced them to halt the trip. They moved the shuttle out Wednesday aboard a backup trawler while technicians studied the glitch on the first one.

"Crawler Two is currently taking the shuttle out to the launchpad. One had a computer processor failure and the mission team is trouble shooting that now," Wells said Wednesday.

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Cult 3-D model of the
Space shuttle Columbia

 
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The shuttle crawlers have roughly the same surface area as a baseball diamond and move a total of 17 million pounds when they transport shuttles to the Kennedy Space Center launchpad.

Mission managers were evaluating the impact of the rollout delay on the remainder of the shuttle's processing schedule.

Atlantis and its five-member crew is currently scheduled to launch no earlier than January 19 to deliver the U.S.-built Destiny segment to the space station Alpha. Atlantis last flew in September.

The flight will be the first shuttle mission of 2001 and the seventh in the ongoing assembly of the space station. The $100 billion orbiting outpost currently hosts its first long-term residents, two Russians and one American who are halfway into a four-month stay.



RELATED STORIES:
Space station crew to ring in new year 15 times
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December 2, 2000
Space shuttle makes unusual California landing
October 24, 2000
Shuttle Discovery zooms in on orbiting outpost
October 12, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis (OV-104)
Kennedy Space Center


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