Kennedy News

Candrea Thomas
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Michael Curie
Headquarters, Washington

Kyle Herring
Johnson Space Center, Houston

May 20, 2011
NASA Sets Launch Date And Media Credential Deadlines For Final Shuttle Flight
WASHINGTON -- NASA's final space shuttle flight is targeted to launch July 8 at about 11:40 a.m. EDT from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Four veteran astronauts will fly aboard shuttle Atlantis to deliver supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station.

This date was targeted based on NASA's current planning. An official launch date will be announced following the June 28 Flight Readiness Review.

There are several non-standard activities, including a tanking test followed by an X-ray inspection of a section of the external fuel tank, which may affect Atlantis' processing. The tank consists of three sections. Mission managers want to X-ray aluminum support beams, known as stringers, located where the liquid hydrogen tank meets the intertank. Cracked intertank stringers were identified during shuttle Discovery's first launch attempt in November 2010 and delayed its launch until the problem was resolved. X-ray inspection of the intertank stringers provides additional confidence that there are no stringer cracks in Atlantis' tank. The stringers located where the liquid oxygen tank meets the intertank were modified with extra material to add strength and do not require inspection.

The 12-day mission also will deliver an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space -- even satellites not designed to be serviced. The crew also will return an ammonia pump that recently failed on the station. Engineers want to understand why the pump failed and improve designs for future spacecraft.

Chris Ferguson, a veteran of two previous shuttle missions, will command the flight. Doug Hurley will serve as the pilot, a role he filled on STS-127 in 2009. Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim will be the mission specialists. Magnus spent 4.5 months aboard the station beginning in November 2008. Walheim flew on STS-110 in 2002 and STS-122 in 2008.

STS-135 will be Atlantis' 33rd mission and the 37th shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. It will be the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

Reporters must apply for STS-135 media credentials to attend the launch or cover the mission from other NASA centers. To be accredited, reporters must work for verifiable news-gathering organizations. No substitutions of credentials are allowed at any NASA facility.

Journalists who are lawful permanent residents, have dual or multiple U.S. citizenship or are U.S. citizens representing international media outlets will have their credential applications processed in the same manner as U.S. citizens who represent domestic media.

Additional time may be required to process accreditation requests by journalists from certain designated countries. Designated countries include those with which the United States has no diplomatic relations, countries on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, those under U.S. sanction or embargo and countries associated with proliferation concerns. Please contact the accrediting NASA center for details. Journalists should confirm they have been accredited before traveling.


Reporters applying for credentials at Kennedy should submit requests via the Web at:

Reporters must use work e-mail addresses, not personal accounts, when applying. After accreditation is approved, applicants will receive confirmation via e-mail.

Accredited media representatives with mission badges will have access to Kennedy from launch through the end of the mission. The application deadline for mission badges is June 26.

Reporters with special requests for Kennedy, such as space for satellite trucks, trailers, electrical connections or workspace, must contact Laurel Lichtenberger by June 26 at:

Wireless Internet access is available at Kennedy's news center. However, access may be limited at times due to volume. Reporters should have alternate wireless resources. Workspace in the news center and the news center annex is provided on a first-come basis, limited to one space per organization. To set up temporary telephone, fax, ISDN or network lines, media representatives must arrange with BellSouth at 800-213-4988.

Reporters must have an assigned seat in the Kennedy newsroom prior to setting up lines. To obtain an assigned seat, contact Jennifer Horner at:

Journalists must have a public affairs escort to all other areas of Kennedy except the Launch Complex 39 cafeteria.


Reporters may obtain credentials for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston by calling the center's newsroom at 281-483-5111 or by presenting STS-135 mission credentials from Kennedy. Media representatives planning to cover the mission only from Johnson need to apply for credentials only at the center.

The application deadline for mission badges is June 26.

Journalists covering the mission from Houston using Kennedy credentials must also contact Johnson's newsroom by June 26 to arrange workspace, phone lines and other logistics. Johnson is responsible for credentialing media if the shuttle lands at NASA's White Sands Space Harbor, N.M. If a landing is imminent at White Sands, Johnson will arrange credentials.


Notice for a shuttle landing at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base in California could be short. Media outlets should consider accrediting Los Angeles-based personnel who could travel quickly to Dryden.

Deadlines for submitting Dryden accreditation requests are June 10 for international journalists and July 13 for U.S. citizens or journalists who have permanent residency status, regardless of their media affiliation.

For Dryden media credentials, U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens representing bona fide media outlets must provide their full name, date of birth, place of birth, media organization, driver's license number with the name of the issuing state and the last six digits of their social security number.

In addition, international journalists must provide either their passport or visa number, country of issue and expiration date.

Journalists should e-mail requests to: Requests must include a phone number and business e-mail address for follow-up contact.


Kennedy Space Center: Allard Beutel, 321-867-2468,
Johnson Space Center: Kylie Clem, 281-483-5111,
Dryden Flight Research Center: Leslie Williams, 661-276-3893,

For information about the International Space Station, visit:

For information about the STS-135 mission, visit:


- end -

text-only version of this release

To receive status reports and news releases issued from the Kennedy Space Center Newsroom electronically, send a blank e-mail message to To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail message to The system will confirm your request via e-mail.