Q-and-A at the Pad

STS-129 crew at Launch Pad 39A
The STS-129 astronauts, while at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a launch dress rehearsal, took the opportunity to speak with the media about their upcoming mission to the International Space Station.

Space shuttle Atlantis Pilot Barry E. Wilmore reflected on the first shuttle flight he'll be flying.

"I can't begin to put into words how it feels," Wilmore said. "After being an astronaut for nine years and it's just now become my turn to go … and how exciting it was to fly by yesterday, look down and see Atlantis on the pad... knowing that all the efforts around this nation that have gone into preparing this vehicle for our launch. We're proud to be the folks to sit on the pointy end of it and get to launch on it."

"I'd do backflips for you," Wilmore continued. "It's been a thrilling time and a thrilling moment for all of us, and certainly for me being a first-time flier."

Peppered among mission-related questions was one answered by Atlantis' Commander Charles O. Hobaugh about the Constellation Program's next-generation spacecraft.

"We're ready to take the next step when it happens. For us, where we're at right now... we're focused on getting this mission off and doing our best job to make sure it happens," Hobaugh said. "Once we get back we'll jump into whatever the Augustine commission and the current administration decides is the proper course for NASA to take in its next generation."

"We are very lucky to be a participant in the space program," Hobaugh continued. "It's part of the bigger national interest and also part of an international effort and wherever our piece fits in I think all of us are more than happy to do our best part to make sure it occurs in the best way possible."

While at Launch Pad 39A today, the crew will practice emergency pad egress and other related safety training. They will return to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston tomorrow and then conduct the remainder of the launch dress rehearsal training at Kennedy on Nov. 2 and 3.