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April 5, 2000

Dwayne C. Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: H00-56

New, Improved Atlantis Set for April 24 Launch to Station

Following a review of flight readiness, Space Shuttle managers today confirmed April 24 as the launch date for Atlantis on a mission that will continue the development of the orbiting International Space Station and usher in a new era of Shuttle improvements.

Atlantis' liftoff is planned for approximately 3:15 p.m. CDT, within a 10-minute launch window. The precise launch time and window could vary slightly and will be established about 24 hours ahead of liftoff to optimize the Shuttle's performance.

"Atlantis' last flight in space was a visit to the Mir space station," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said. "Since then, Atlantis has had more than 100 modifications and improvements made, making it the most up-to-date Shuttle ever."

In recognition of Easter Weekend, provisions will be made for launch team personnel to honor family and personal obligations.

Atlantis' mission on STS-101 will be the first flight of a new Shuttle "glass cockpit" and more than a dozen other Shuttle improvements. Atlantis will dock with the International Space Station and the seven-member crew will unload more than a ton of cargo, performing several maintenance tasks onboard to ensure the station remains in good condition as its orbital assembly continues later this year. The crew also will conduct one spacewalk to perform work on the exterior of the station.

Atlantis is planned to spend almost six days docked with the station before returning to Earth with a landing planned at Kennedy Space Center at 10:23 a.m. CDT May 4.


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