There’s normally little to report on the first day of these missions. The shuttle is in space, it is heading for the ISS, where it will dock tomorrow at 10:27 EDT/ 15:27 BST. Satellite observers can see Atlantis the and the International Space Station following one another in the twilight sky if they’re in the right place and time (using websites like Heavens Above to check). STS-132 isn’t much different. People can watch the astronauts getting their space feet back on NASA TV.
But there have been some happenings. How many people are in space right now?, one of those websites with a name far longer than its content has been updated. A report from space.com looks towards the docking tomorrow, noting that a piece of debris means the ISS is going to have to fire its thrusters and edge out of the way a bit tonight. After that’s happened, the station will hopefully still be close enough for the shuttle to reach it and new docking coordinates can be calculated once the drift speed is established.
The launch report from Spaceflightnow.com mentions the possibility of a life after death for Atlantis. The shuttle will be readied for flight again after this mission for use as a rescue shuttle should things get hairy for one of the others during their last missions. Rumour has it that since astronauts can decamp to the ISS and use the station’s lifeboats in the case of a shuttle problem, the real reason behind the readiness is to urge one last shuttle mission before retirement.
As for the astronauts on board, they’re also preparing for life after STS132, with a meet and greet session planned in Portsmouth in the UK for the 27th/28th of June. Science teachers in the south of the UK are urged to apply to be involved in this first stop of a European tour.
There’s a few photos out, with these ones relating to flight day one and these ones relating to the times before the mission. There’s also a bit of video about, with NASA’s Youtube Channel pumping out these: