Shuttle Readied for Venus Probe Mission

Associated Press

Space shuttle Atlantis was moved to the launch pad Wednesday for liftoff next month on a mission to send a radar probe to map the surface of cloud-shrouded Venus.

The spaceship is scheduled for launch April 28 with a crew of five astronauts whose main task will be to start the 7,600-pound Magellan spacecraft on its 15-month journey to the mysterious planet.

No American spacecraft has been launched toward the planets since 1978, and Magellan will be the first planet-bound craft to be released from a space shuttle. Magellan’s assignment is to orbit Venus and map the surface with a powerful radar that will send back images of features as small as 150 yards across.