NASA Prepares Space Shuttle Atlantis for Launch

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The U.S. space agency NASA is making final preparations for the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

NASA crews have fueled the shuttle and are now working through a series of pre-launch inspections.

Liftoff is scheduled for Monday afternoon (2:28 p.m. EST) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Despite increasingly cloudy skies, NASA officials say there is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch.

Atlantis and its six-member crew are carrying more than 13 tons of spare parts for the International Space Station, including equipment for the station’s robotic arm.

Three spacewalks are scheduled during the 11-day space outing, which is NASA’s last shuttle mission of the year. The crew will be at the station for a little over a week and will bring back astronaut, Nicole Stott, who has spent three months on the orbiter.

To coincide with the liftoff of Atlantis, NASA is hosting a gathering at the Kennedy Space Center for 100 of its followers on the social-networking Web site Twitter. The event has been labeled a “tweet-up,” a play on “tweets” – the term for messages sent over the site.

‘Some information for this report was provided by AP.’

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