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T-Minus 10 Seconds [01/18]





STS-115 Atlantis (OV-104) [+][+]
Launch Date: 09-Sep-2006 (Saturday)
Launch Time: 11:15 AM EDT | 15:15 UT (GMT -4)
Launch Pad: 39-B
Mission Number: Shuttle flight No. 116
Duration: 11 days
Landing Site: KSC
Inclination/Altitude: 51.6°/122 nautical miles
Primary Payload: 19th station flight (12A), P3/P4 arrays
Flow Director: Angela J. Brewer

 • List of space shuttle missions • STS-115 • STS-115 TV Schedule • {Shuttle News Feed}----

STS-115 crew: Commander Brent W. Jett Jr., Pilot Christopher J. Ferguson, Mission Specialists Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steven G. MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency.

ERC 47 = STS-115 ATLANTIS = [OS][IR][RU][PT][RH][PD] = ASTROSCHYZY = BEAR OF COVENTRY = GREAT ANGEL HRU = HEPTARCHY = NEW SCIENTIST = THE GLOW-WORM = THE UNITED STATES.

+ Space Shuttle Main + STS-115 Crew + P3/P4 Truss Segment + Landing Blog + NASA TV + Public Channel (QT) + TV Schedule + Certificate of Flight Readiness (3.7 Mb PDF) + Post Flight Readiness Review Briefing Transcript (80 Kb PDF)

+ Official Countdown Clock + Why Two Clocks? + New Launch Control Room + Launch Blog + Weather Forecasts: L-3 : L-1 + Launch Window

Atlantis Rolls Over :: KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Dozens of employees accompany the orbiter Atlantis on its rollover from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. In the VAB, the orbiter will be lifted into high bay 3 for mating to the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. The launch window for Atlantis begins Aug. 28. During its 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the STS-115 crew of six astronauts will install the Port 3/4 truss segment with its two large solar arrays.

Atlantis Rollout to Launch Pad :: NASA's space shuttle Atlantis is set to embark on a four-mile journey to Launch Pad 39-B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on Monday, July 31. First motion is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. EDT. Atlantis' launch window begins Aug. 28 for an 11-day mission to the International Space Station. The fully assembled space shuttle vehicle, consisting of the orbiter, external tank and twin solid rocket boosters, will be mounted on a mobile launcher platform and delivered to the pad via a crawler transporter. The process is expected to take approximately six hours. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the roll out beginning at 6 a.m. EDT as Atlantis approaches the launch pad. Video highlights of the rollout will air on NASA TV's Video File segments.

NASA Space Shuttle :: Due to inclement weather conditions, the scheduled roll out of Space Shuttle Atlantis to Launch Pad 39B was delayed again. The new target time for first motion is set for Wednesday at 2:00 a.m. EDT. The launch window for this mission to resume construction of the International Space Station opens Aug. 27.

NASA Announces Briefings About Next Shuttle Mission :: NASA will preview the next space shuttle mission in a series of media briefings Friday, Aug. 11. Space Shuttle Atlantis’ mission, designated STS-115, is targeted for late August and will resume construction of the International Space Station [...] The briefings will originate from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and be carried live on NASA TV beginning at 9 a.m. EDT.

Tropical Depression Three Forms [31-Jul] :: Tropical Depression Three forms near Leeward Islands becoming Tropical Storm Chris on 01-Aug.

NASASpaceflight [02-Aug|12:24am] :: looks like Atlantis has left the building. took me awhile to realize (chan9large.jpg) she's to the right. NASA TV starts live coverage at 6AM EDT.

NASA: Atlantis Poised at the Pad [03-Aug|12:42am] :: Atlantis' slow, 4.2-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the pad began at 1:05 a.m. [Wednesday, 02-August]. Riding atop the mobile launch platform and carried by the crawler transporter, the orbiter is attached to its external tank, flanked by two solid rocket boosters. At the pad, the vehicle will be enclosed by the rotating service structure during its preparation for launch. From there the payload for the mission will be loaded into the cargo bay. The launch window for this mission to resume construction of the International Space Station opens Aug. 27. Go Atlantis!

Fairy Tale Atlantis [02-Aug] :: Like a fantasy movie scene, the fog on Launch Pad 39B is pierced by lights on vehicles and the service structures as Space Shuttle Atlantis approaches. Atlantis left the Vehicle Assembly Building 1:05 a.m. and arrived at the pad nearly 8 hours later. Atlantis' launch window begins Aug. 27 for an 11-day mission, STS-115, to the International Space Station. The mission crew of six astronauts will continue construction of the station and install their cargo, the Port 3/4 truss segment with its two large solar arrays. Photo credit: NASA/Ron Ostoski :: PHOTO NO: KSC-06PD-1731.

Crew Trains in Florida [07-Aug] :: After their arrival at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility, the STS-115 crew poses for a photo after talking to the media. From left are Mission Specialists Daniel Burbank, Steven MacLean, Joseph Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper; Commander Brent Jett; and Pilot Christopher Ferguson. The STS-115 crew has flown to NASA's Kennedy Space Center to take part in Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test activities. The TCDT is a pre-launch preparation that includes practicing emergency egress from the pad, driving an M-113 armored personnel carrier, and simulating the launch countdown. Launch of STS-115 is currently scheduled for Aug. 27. Photo credit: NASA/George Shelton :: PHOTO NO: KSC-06PD-1748.

NASA Gives 'Go' for Space Shuttle Atlantis' Launch [16-Aug] :: NASA senior managers on Wednesday unanimously voted to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Aug. 27. Commander Brent Jett and his five crewmates are scheduled to lift off at 4:30 p.m. EDT on the STS-115 mission, which restarts construction of the International Space Station. The launch date was announced after the Flight Readiness Review, a traditional meeting in which top NASA managers and engineers determine whether the shuttle's complex array of equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight and assess any risks associated with the mission. "It was an honor to work with this team, a thrill to see another FRR," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "It was a great review, and I look forward to a great launch."

Countdown Begins Aug. 24 for Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch [18-Aug] :: NASA will begin the launch countdown for Space Shuttle Atlantis' STS-115 mission at 6 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 24, at the T-43 hour point [...] The NASA Kennedy Space Center launch team will conduct the countdown from the newly renovated firing room 4 of the Launch Control Center. The countdown includes 27 hours, 24 minutes of built-in hold time leading to a preferred launch time at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27. The launch window for that day extends an additional five minutes. This mission is the 116th space shuttle flight, the 27th flight for Atlantis and the 19th U.S. flight to the International Space Station. STS-115 is scheduled to last 11 days with a landing at Kennedy about 12:02 p.m. EDT on Sept. 7. Atlantis' last mission was STS-112 in October 2002.

NASA to Replace Antenna Bolts on Shuttle Atlantis [19-Aug] :: (SPACE.com) NASA officials have opted to replace two bolts securing a vital antenna to the cargo bay aboard the shuttle Atlantis, though the swap should not impact the vehicle's planned Aug. 27 launch date. "We'll be getting set up this afternoon and this evening," NASA spokesperson Tracy Young, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch site, told SPACE.com. "The operation should be done by Sunday." Atlantis remains on track to launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Aug. 27. The shuttle's STS-115 astronaut crew is poised to deliver two girder-like truss segments and a new set of solar arrays to the orbital laboratory during their 11-day spaceflight. While all four of Atlantis' Ku-band antenna bolts have performed as expected throughout the orbiter's 26-launch history, engineers chose to replace them rather than risk a failure during liftoff that could send the antenna plunging down the length of the orbiter's 60-foot (18-meter) cargo bay.

Final Preparations for Aug. 27 Launch Continue :: [19-Aug] (NASA) At Launch Pad 39B, hypergolic propellant loading is being completed. Following a decision by Space Shuttle Program managers to remove and replace two Ku-band antenna actuator bolts in the forward section of the orbiter payload bay, workers are preparing access platforms and will complete the task over the weekend. The bolts will be replaced with longer versions to ensure adequate thread engagement. Ordnance installation is now scheduled for Sunday evening, pending completion of the bolt replacement. + View Bolt Removal and Replacement Graphics (PDF 3.2 Mb)

STS-115 Crew Arrives, Launch on Track :: [24-Aug] The Atlantis crew arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida today to begin final preparations for mission STS-115. Flying T-38 trainer jets, the astronauts landed at the Shuttle Landing Facility at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Commander Brent Jett introduced the crew and spoke briefly about the upcoming mission to the International Space Station. "Speaking for myself and my fellow crewmates, I can assure you that we are ready for the challenge and we're ready to restart the assembly sequence." He added, "We have a saying back in Texas: 'It's time to walk the walk.' " Mission Specialist Joe Tanner expressed the crew's appreciation to all the space workers who have worked tirelessly to prepare for the mission, adding, "When we climb aboard Atlantis on Sunday, we do so with confidence that the vehicle is ready, prepared by the best technicians, engineers and managers in the business." Later today, Jett and Pilot Chris Ferguson will return to the runway to practice landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft. The countdown officially began at noon EDT today, at the T-43 hour mark. The countdown includes about 36 hours of built-in hold time prior to a targeted 4:30 p.m. EDT launch on Sunday; it is the middle point in the launch window that extends for 10 minutes. At the 10 a.m. Countdown Status Briefing, NASA Test Director Steve Payne reported that the launch team is working no issues, saying, "Atlantis is in excellent shape and we're on track for the preparations for Sunday's launch to bring the P3 and P4 truss to the orbiting space station and return her crew safely home." STS-115 Payload Manager Robbie Ashley expressed satisfaction that the P3/P4 segment would be joined to the space station soon, adding, "it's been a long time coming." He said, "We're anxious to see them get on orbit and perform the job they were intended to do." Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters provided a generally positive outlook for launch day conditions. "Overall the weather is looking pretty good for launch day. We do have a 30 percent chance of weather prohibiting tanking in the morning," she said. "We have a 30 percent chance of weather prohibiting launch." She added, "Generally, pretty good weather when it comes to an afternoon summertime day here in Florida." The next status briefing is scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT Friday and will be carried live on NASA TV.

Crew Readies for Liftoff :: [26-Aug] Saturday evening at Launch Pad 39B, the rotating service structure is scheduled to move away from the shuttle at about 7:30 p.m. EDT and Atlantis will stand ready for liftoff [...] Mission Specialist Joe Tanner expressed the crew's appreciation to all the space workers who have worked tirelessly to prepare for the mission, adding, "When we climb aboard Atlantis on Sunday, we do so with confidence that the vehicle is ready, prepared by the best technicians, engineers and managers in the business."

Launch Postponed :: [26-Aug] The Space Shuttle Mission Management Team decided Saturday afternoon to postpone the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis for at least 24 hours to allow more time for teams to assess ground and flight systems following a strong lighting strike to the lighting protection system at the launch pad on Friday afternoon. + View Image ([1]::[2]) ~ "We're going to let the teams go off and work the plans," said LeRoy Cain, launch integration manager and chairman of the management team. Cain said the Mission Management Team would review data and decide about Monday when they reconvene at 10 a.m. EDT on Sunday ["We know just enough to know that we don't know enough to be able to press on into a launch situation," Cain said.]. + View Video (Real::Windows) If it is determined that all systems are go for a Monday launch, the weather presents only a 20 percent chance of "no go" according to U.S. Air Force First Lt. Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The liftoff time for Monday would be 4:04 p.m. EDT.

Engineers Continue to Study Lightning Strike :: [27-Aug] Shuttle managers held a Mission Management Team teleconference Saturday night to discuss the latest information they had about potential effects from the lightning strike at the launch pad Friday. At this point, there are no indications of damage from the strike. While several teams were able to clear their systems of any concerns of impact from the strike, including the orbiter and external tank teams, the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) project had no data because its systems weren't on at the time of the strike. Managers decided to give the teams extra time Sunday to look at all available data and determine whether the SRB could have seen high currents or voltage. (Video of Lightning Strike: + Real | + Windows). The Mission Management Team will meet again at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, instead of 10 a.m. as previously scheduled. A news briefing on NASA TV will follow that meeting. {ernesto}

Launch Delayed Until Tuesday :: [27-Aug] Mission managers have determined Shuttle Atlantis will not launch before Tuesday, Aug. 29. This delay is as a result of the lightning strike at the pad on Friday and the need for additional time for further analysis of the shuttle and ground systems. No damage to the vehicle or pad has been found at this time, but more time for analysis requires an additional launch delay. At a 2 p.m. press conference today, Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Adm. for space operations, will provide further details on launch preparations. The briefing will be carried live on NASA TV.

Ernesto Forces Atlantis Rollback Preparations :: [28-Aug] NASA mission managers announced at a midmorning briefing today that rollback preparations are proceeding, ensuring that Space Shuttle Atlantis would be safely back in the Vehicle Assembly Building before effects from Tropical Storm Ernesto would be felt at the Kennedy Space Center on Florida's east coast. Leroy Cain, mission management team chairman, explained, "We pretty much did what we said we were going to do. We got together this morning and talked about it and didn't see any significant change for the good." "We'd like to get off the pad tomorrow morning if at all possible," said Launch Director Mike Leinbach. "Based on tomorrow afternoon's local weather, we'd much rather be back in the VAB earlier rather than later." Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters described the effects that the Kennedy Space Center could receive from Ernesto if the current track and strength holds, predicting tropical storm force winds Wednesday morning and hurricane force winds by 5 p.m. EDT. Earlier in the day, mission managers decided to scrub Tuesday's scheduled launch attempt, since rollback would need to start by mid-day. NASA's launch window extends to Sept. 13, but mission managers were hoping to launch by Sept. 7 to avoid a conflict with a Russian Soyuz rocket also bound for the International Space Station. Officials are talking with our Russian partners about the issue. Atlantis would require eight days of launch preparations once it was returned to Launch Pad 39B. + Hurricane Ernesto by ISS : vertical view of Hurricane Ernesto was taken by the crew of the International Space Station on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006, from an altitude of about 215 miles. At that time, Ernesto was approaching Cuba and was expected to eventually make landfall on the coast of southern Florida.

NASA Decides to Move Shuttle Atlantis Off Launch Pad :: [29-Aug] NASA has decided to roll Space Shuttle Atlantis off its launch pad and back inside the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The roll back of Atlantis is targeted to start at 10:05 a.m. EDT this morning. The decision was made due to Tropical Storm Ernesto's track. Ernesto is expected to bring high winds as it passes Kennedy. A new launch date is not yet scheduled for Atlantis' flight, STS-115, to the International Space Station. NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency continue to discuss the timing of Atlantis’ mission and the Soyuz spacecraft, which will send the next crew to the Station in September. Atlantis would require eight days of launch preparations once it was returned to Launch Pad 39B. + View Image

Atlantis to Weather Ernesto at the Pad :: [29-Aug] NASA Mission Managers have decided to return Atlantis to Launch Pad 39B today. The space shuttle is expected it to be back in place by about 8 p.m. EDT. The decision came as Tropical Storm Ernesto was predicted to skirt further west than first expected, allowing a sufficient decrease in winds to permit the shuttle to ride out the storm at the pad. Launch Director Mike Leinbach and the team made the determination at 2:40 p.m. EDT. Atlantis had begun its trek to the Vehicle Assembly Building, atop the crawler-transporter, at 10:04 a.m. this morning.

Atlantis to Weather Ernesto at the Pad :: [30-Aug] Atlantis is at Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to weather Tropical Depression Ernesto in place. Mission managers are confident in the ability of the rotating service structure to protect the vehicle on the pad. Mission managers are considering Sept. 6, 7 and 8 as potential launch dates, depending on how Ernesto affects the center. Emergency operations teams are set to begin initial damage assessments of NASA's Kennedy Space Center starting at 2 a.m. EDT Thursday, after Ernesto has moved past the center. As of now, the center is expected to reopen Thursday morning. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Leroy Cain, launch integration manager, explained that when the decision was made Tuesday morning to roll back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, the "forecast was just not quite good enough." During a morning meeting, however, Launch Director Mike Leinbach introduced the option for stopping the rollback if the forecast improved, and the team implemented that option during the afternoon when the 11 a.m. EDT forecast showed enough improvement. The decision came as the projected path for Tropical Storm Ernesto skirted further west than first expected, allowing a sufficient decrease in winds to permit the shuttle to ride out the storm at the pad. The team made the determination at 2:40 p.m. and Atlantis began the return trip to the pad. Its trek to the Vehicle Assembly Building atop the crawler-transporter had started at 10:04 a.m.

NHC Ernesto Discussion :: [30-Aug @ 1100PM EDT] RADAR AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THE BROAD CENTER OF ERNESTO IS MOVING INTO THE ATLANTIC NEAR CAPE CANAVERAL FLORIDA WITH A CENTRAL PRESSURE NEAR 1000 MB [+].

Hurricane Tracker: Ernesto :: Date: Aug. 30, 2006 @ 11:00 p.m. ET / Winds: 35 mph / Strength: Tropical Depression / Direction: Moving N at 15 mph / Latitude: 28.7 N / Longitude: -80.6 W {mapquest}. Merritt Island coordinates: 28.357901° -80.684734°.

Atlantis Weathers the Storm :: [31-Aug] No damage to facilities or flight hardware is reported at the Kennedy Space Center following the exit of Ernesto from Florida. As the tropical depression passed through the area on Wednesday, the peak wind recorded on Launch Pad 39B, where Space Shuttle Atlantis stands, was measured at 44 miles per hour at 4:45 p.m. EDT. The shuttle was surrounded by the rotating service structure as NASA decided to protect it in place when weather forecasts improved. Mission managers are considering a possible launch as early as Sept. 6. If that date is selected, the liftoff time would be 12:29 p.m. Emergency operations teams began initial damage assessments at the space center starting at 2 a.m. EDT on Thursday after Ernesto moved past. The center reopened for normal operations on Thursday morning. + Atlantis rests on Launch Pad 39B

New Launch Date :: [31-Aug] As launch preparations resumed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B on Thursday, mission managers set Sept. 6 as the new date for the launch of Atlantis on Mission STS-115 to the International Space Station. Liftoff time would be 12:29 p.m. EDT. + Russia postpones space-station launch

Crew to Arrive as Launch Approaches :: [01-Sep] The Atlantis crew is scheduled to arrive back at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday to begin final preparations for mission STS-115. Flying T-38 trainer jets, the astronauts will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility about 10:30 a.m. EDT. Launch preparations resumed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B on Thursday, as mission managers set Sept. 6 as the new date for the launch of the space shuttle on Mission STS-115 to the International Space Station. Liftoff time is 12:29 p.m. EDT.

STS-115 Crew Arrives in Florida :: [02-Sep] The six Atlantis crew members flew Saturday morning from their home base in Houston to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will begin final launch preparations for mission STS-115. The countdown officially begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, at the T-43 hour mark, which includes over 30 hours of built-in hold time prior to a targeted 12:29 p.m. EDT launch on Wednesday. The launch time is the middle point in the launch window that extends for 10 minutes. + View Crew

Tropical Depression Six Forms :: [03-Sep] Tropical Depression Six forms in Central Tropical Atlantic becoming Tropical Storm Florence on 05-Sep.

Ready to Fly :: [04-Sep] At the launch readiness news conference on Monday afternoon, Wayne Hale, shuttle program manager, said that even though the tropical weather put them behind earlier in the week, thanks to hard work by the launch team, the vehicle is ready for liftoff and "we are looking forward to a really good mission." LeRoy Cain, launch integration manager, reported that after reviews by the mission management team, "At the end of the day we did our readiness poll to continue from here toward launch and we got a "go" from all the elements and we feel like we're in very good shape." Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the countdown is going smoothly and they are looking for a good, on-time liftoff on Wednesday. U.S. Air Force First Lt. Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station provided an update on the prospects for launch-day weather issues. Conditions continue to look favorable, with only a 20 percent chance of a "no go" due to weather at the liftoff time of 12:29 p.m.

STS-115 Mission Management Team Briefing Update :: [05-Sep] During this morning's status briefing from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Space Shuttle Program Director Wayne Hale said that the mission management team had a really good review. "We as a management team need to meet everyday on a regular schedule to make sure we have properly reviewed the entire launch system." Leroy Cain, Launch Integration Manager said, "We had a good weather briefing, we are working no issues and the vehicle is in really good shape." "The countdown is going extremely well, we are not tracking any problems," said Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach. "We will just deal with the weather and if we get the RSS back before the weather that's just fine or we'll just wait for it to pass." "We are not tracking any issues on the vehicle or the ground side to prevent us from tanking tomorrow." Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported that afternoon thunderstorms are expected today. "We are a little more concerned about launch day then we were yesterday. It is a little more moist and so we are going to bump up our numbers from 10% to a 30% chance of KSC weather prohibiting launch." The forecast for a 24 to 48 hour period if the launch is delayed remains the same at a 30% chance of weather violation. This afternoon at Launch Pad 39B, the rotating service structure will move away from the shuttle and Atlantis will stand ready for liftoff.

Launch Scrubbed for 24 Hours :: [06-Sep] A 24-hour scrub has been called by Mission Managers due to a concern with Fuel Cell 1. Troubleshooting will continue throughout the day. Further updates will follow. + NASA may delay shuttle Atlantis launch (Reuters) | + Atlantis launch scrubbed (SpaceFlightNow)

Launch Status Briefing :: [06-Sep] At a 6 p.m. briefing on Wednesday, NASA's STS-115 Mission Management Team announced that because of the fuel cell anomaly it would be prudent to spend another 24 hours to research the issue. The management team will meet again at 1 p.m. on Thursday to assess the data gathered about the fuel cell issue and decide whether the launch will take place on Friday. "We want to fly a good mission, we want to fly a safe mission, we want to have a successful mission," said Wayne Hale, space shuttle program director. Hale reported that more tests and analysis would be necessary because there has been no previous failure of this nature in the history of the program. Deputy Orbiter Project Manager, Ed Mango said "We put together a huge amount of data, but it's not complete yet. We have to put all the data on the table and look at it." Mango also reported that the signature reading on the fuel cell cooling pump had never been seen before. "We'll need more time to understand what this signature really means," he said. Weather Officer Lt. Col. Patrick Barrett reported that for Friday, launch day, Kennedy will experience much the same weather conditions as earlier this week. There may be some upper level clouds coming into the area during the early morning hours and a 30 percent chance of weather prohibiting launch continues over the next few days. + Atlantis Dawn (small) | + NASA Aims for Friday Launch Attempt

NASA Managers to Discuss a Friday Launch Attempt on NASA TV :: [07-Sep] The STS-115 Mission Management Team is scheduled to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. EDT to announce a Friday morning launch attempt. The launch time for Space Shuttle Atlantis is targeted for 11:41 a.m. More information to follow... [Hale said fuel cells weren't rocket science (yuk,yuk) but 19th century technology, reliable. risk vs. risk &c]

Atlantis Set to Launch on Friday :: [07-Sep|6:40 p.m. EDT] Space Shuttle Atlantis and the STS-115 crew is set to launch Friday morning on an assembly mission to the International Space Station. The launch time for Atlantis is targeted for 11:41 a.m. During a Thursday evening news conference Wayne Hale, Space Shuttle Program manager, said the decision to fly came about after a lively and inclusive meeting with space shuttle mission managers and engineers held in the early afternoon. "If you ever wanted to see the difference between the old NASA and the new NASA, you should've been over there today. There was a chance for everyone to participate." Hale continued to say that the Mission Management team's vote to fly on Friday was nearly unanimous. The decision to launch follows analysis of an issue found with one of Atlantis' three electricity-generating fuel cells, which was discovered during pre-launch preparations earlier this week. NASA engineers have determined that any failure of the suspect fuel cell during the mission poses no danger to Atlantis and its crew. They also believe two fuel cells alone would provide Atlantis with enough power to accomplish the major goals of the mission. The conditions at Kennedy Space Center for Friday's launch look promising with only a 30 percent chance that weather could ground the flight. The primary weather concerns for the morning launch are of cumulus clouds or isolated thunderstorms in the area.

Space Shuttle Fuel Cells :: [07-Sep] The space shuttle's fuel cell system is made up of three cells, which are located under the payload bay liner in the forward portion of the orbiter's midfuselage. Each 255-pound reusable cell is 14 inches high, 15 inches wide and 40 inches long. The three cells operate as independent electrical power sources that generate heat and water as by-products of the power generation. The water is stored and used for the environmental control and life support system.

Fueling Underway :: [08-Sep|0653 GMT (2:53 a.m. EDT)] The filling of space shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank with a half-million gallons of supercold propellants has begun at launch pad 39B. The tanking operation commenced with the chilldown thermal conditioning process at 2:49 a.m. This will be followed by the slow-fill mode and then the fast-fill mode. The cryogenics are pumped from storage spheres at the pad, through feed lines to the mobile launcher platform, into Atlantis' aft compartment and finally into the external fuel tank. There are two tanks inside the shuttle's external fuel tank. The liquid oxygen tank occupies the top third of the bullet-shaped tank. It will be filled with 143,000 gallons of liquid oxygen chilled to minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 183 degrees Celsius). The liquid hydrogen tank is contained in the bottom two-thirds of the external tank. It holds 385,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen chilled to minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 253 degrees Celsius).

Launch Day Arrives, Tanking Completed :: [08-Sep|6:15 a.m. EDT] The launch team has reported that an ECO sensor on the hydrogen side of the external tank has failed. At this time the team is pressing forward with launch preparations. Mission Management Team members are meeting at this to determine if they will consider launching with three working sensors or if it will be necessary to de-tank and come back tomorrow. At Launch Pad 39B, the three-hour process for loading of Space Shuttle Atlantis' orange external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen was completed at 5:46 a.m EDT this morning. The "topping off" of propellants into the tank will continue until liftoff. All systems onboard the space shuttle are functioning normally and we continue to press toward a scheduled launch time at 11:41 a.m. this morning. Throughout the morning, the STS-115 astronauts will prepare for launch in the Operations and Checkout Building's crew quarters before taking the 20-minute ride to the launch pad about 7:50 a.m. this morning aboard the Astrovan. Launch weather remains at 70 percent "go" for launch, with the primary concern for rain within 20 miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility. No other issues are being addressed by the launch team at this time. + See ECO Sensor PowerPoint Slide | + Mission STS-115 NASA Launch Blog (First Attempt) | + NASA Spaceflight (First Attempt) | + NASA solving its ECO problems | + Spaceflight Now (First Attempt) | + Engine Cut-Off Sensor Background

NASA Postpones Shuttle Atlantis Launch, Aims for Saturday :: [08-Sep] NASA has delayed Friday's launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on its STS-115 mission to the International Space Station. Lift-off now is set for 11:15 a.m. EDT Saturday. Shuttle program managers decided to postpone Atlantis' launch at 10:52 a.m. EDT Friday due to an issue with a fuel cut-off sensor system inside the external fuel tank. This is one of several systems that protect the shuttle's main engines by triggering their shut down if fuel runs unexpectedly low. During countdown activities Friday morning a sensor inside the external tank failed a routine pre-launch check. The engine cut-off, or ECO sensor, is one of four inside the liquid hydrogen section of the tank. The tank's liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen will be drained Friday. While the tank is emptied, engineers will monitor and collect data on the liquid hydrogen sensors. NASA's launch rules have a preplanned procedure that states if a single ECO sensor fails, engineers need to drain the tank and verify all the sensors are working as they go dry. If the sensors and system work as expected, Atlantis will be cleared to launch with three of four working sensors Saturday. The reloading of the external tank is set for 1:15 a.m. EDT Saturday.

Liftoff! Atlantis is Space Station Bound :: [09-Sep|11:14:55.066 a.m. EDT (Official Launch Time)] Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center and charged into the midday Florida sky on a mission to boost power on the International Space Station. The launch was on time, with liftoff at 11:15 a.m. EDT. Over the 11-day mission, the six-member crew will perform three spacewalks to install the P3/P4 integrated truss and solar arrays on the station, doubling the current power generating capability of the orbiting outpost. NASA TV will carry a post-launch news conference at approximately one hour after liftoff. [Mission STS-115 is the 116th space shuttle flight, the 27th flight for orbiter Atlantis, and the 19th U.S. flight to the International Space Station] + STS-115 Launch Day Image Gallery | + Atlantis Revealed | + Merritt Island Eagles: {1}{2}{3}{4}

Atlantis Begins Mission to the Space Station :: [09-Sep] The Space Shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew are on their way to the International Space Station after lifting-off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 11:14:55 a.m. EDT Saturday. "It's been almost four years, two Return to Flight missions, a tremendous amount of work by thousands of individuals to get the shuttle program back to where we are right now and that's on the verge of restarting the station assembly sequence," said Atlantis' Commander Brent Jett. "We're confident over the next few weeks, and few years for that matter, that NASA's going to prove to our nation, to our partners and our friends around the world that it was worth the wait and the sacrifice. We're ready to get to work." The fuel cut-off sensor system, which malfunctioned and delayed Atlantis' scheduled Friday launch, performed normally Saturday. The engine cut-off, or ECO, sensor is one of four inside the liquid hydrogen section of the shuttle's external fuel tank. + Mission STS-115 NASA Launch Blog (Second Attempt) | + NASA Spaceflight (Second Attempt) | + Spaceflight Now

Atlantis In Good Shape After Launch :: [09-Sep] The STS-115 astronauts entered their sleep period at 5:15 p.m. EDT Saturday for a well-deserved rest after the successful launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. They will begin their first full day in space at 1:15 a.m. Sunday with a wake-up call from the Mission Control Center in Houston. Sunday's activities will focus on shuttle heat shield inspections and preparations for STS-115's arrival at the International Space Station. During a post-launch briefing on Saturday, Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said Atlantis appears to have come through launch in good shape and unscathed. Hale's announcement follows analysis of imagery of the shuttle's climb into space provided by cameras on the ground around Kennedy Space Center and mounted onboard the vehicle. Hale even went so far as to apologize for bringing no images to the news conference. "There's just nothing to look at," said an obviously pleased Hale. Hale did acknowledge that five objects believed to be foam and ice harmlessly released from the space shuttle beginning at approximately four minutes into Atlantis' flight. He added that due to the thinness of the atmosphere and other factors the debris didn't have anywhere near the velocity needed to cause damage to the orbiter. + STS-115 Post-launch News Conference Transcript (85 Kb PDF)

Tags: atlantis, atlantis launch, nasa, sts-115, t-minus
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