Image: Atlantis in Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA
The shuttle Atlantis is lifted into position for mating with its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters on July 24. Atlantis is now ready to head out to the launch pad, if the weather cooperates.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/2/2006 3:05:46 AM ET 2006-08-02T07:05:46

The space shuttle Atlantis moved toward its launch pad early Wednesday, after a two-day delay caused by stormy Florida weather.

Atlantis began the 4-mile-long (6.4-kilometer-long) trip from the space center's Vehicle Assembly Building to its launch pad aboard a mobile crawler-transporter sometime after 1 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the newspaper Florida Today and the Spaceflight Now online news site. Hauling the space shuttle to the launch pad takes at least six hours.

The window for launching Atlantis opens Aug. 27 and lasts until Sept. 13. The space agency still has four or five days of leeway in its processing schedule, so the weather-caused delay isn't expected to have an effect on the timetable for launch.

The mission will be the first to resume construction of the international space station since December 2002. The deadly Columbia accident in early 2003 halted all expansion of the orbiting space lab and forced a reduction in the crew size from three to two.

The crew size returned to three members last month after the space shuttle Discovery delivered German astronaut Thomas Reiter to the international space station for the European Space Agency.

During their 11-day mission, Atlantis’ six astronauts will deliver and install giant solar arrays to the space station and conduct three spacewalks.

This report includes information from MSNBC.com and The Associated Press.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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