The STS-129 Atlantis space shuttle successfully lifted off on 16 November 2009, and is heading for the International Space Station (ISS).

Atlantis carries critical spare parts on two external logistics carriers (ELCs) that will be attached to the space station on its 11-day cargo mission.

The total 27,250lb of spares in the ELCs include two each of pump modules, control moment gyroscopes and nitrogen tank assemblies.

It also contains an ammonia tank assembly, a high-pressure gas tank, a latching end effector for the station’s robotic arm and a trailing umbilical system reel assembly for the railroad cart for the arm to move along the station’s truss system.

The spares will keep the station going long after the shuttles retire.

The mission on the station will include robotic work to transfer spares, three space walks and a rewiring project in preparation for the next STS-130 mission.

The shuttle will dock onto the space station on 18 November 2009.