Riding on top of a 3,000-ton Apollo-era crawler transporter, Atlantis left the Kennedy Space Center's massive assembly building before dawn. The 3.8-mile trek took about five hours.
Already waiting at the launch pad for Atlantis was Columbus, Europe's primary contribution to the $100 billion, 16-nation space station project. The lab is scheduled to be loaded into the shuttle's cargo bay on Sunday. The three-day launch countdown will begin on December 3.
Atlantis' seven-man crew, which includes European astronauts Hans Schlegel of Germany and Leopold Eyharts of France, is scheduled to arrive in Florida next weekend for a launch dress rehearsal. Eyharts will remain aboard the space station for about two-months. via Reuters