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The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-115
Launch: Sept. 9, 2006
Time: 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT)
Site: Pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Sept. 21 @ 6:21 a.m. EDT (1021 GMT)
Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC
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Veteran shuttle commander Brent Jett leads a six-person crew launching aboard Atlantis for the STS-115 mission.

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CDR: Brent Jett

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Atlantis on the pad
Space shuttle Atlantis is delivered to Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B on August 2 to begin final preparations for blastoff on the STS-115 mission to resume construction of the International Space Station.

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Atlantis rollout begins
Just after 1 a.m. local time August 2, the crawler-transporter began the slow move out of the Vehicle Assembly Building carrying space shuttle Atlantis toward the launch pad.

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Atlantis on the move
Space shuttle Atlantis is transported to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building where the ship will be mated to the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters for a late-August liftoff.

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More video



Lightning delays Atlantis launch a day
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 26, 2006

The lightning bolt that hit launch pad 39B Friday was one of the most powerful on record at the Kennedy Space Center, sending some 100,000 amps of current through the lightning protection system, officials said today. While the lightning protection system worked, shielding the shuttle Atlantis from a direct hit, engineers are concerned about induced currents that showed up in a brief spike in one of the shuttle's main circuits and another in a launch pad pyrotechnic system.


A bolt of lightning hits launch pad 39B on Friday. Credit: NASA-KSC
 
The spike in the shuttle electrical system was very small and within allowable limits. But no such spikes were expected, an official said, prompting engineers to question whether it might have caused any problems.

At the same time, telemetry indicated a spike in the circuitry associated with a pyrotechnic device that releases a hydrogen vent arm from the side of the shuttle's external tank at liftoff. Engineers inspecting the pad later reported a burning smell in the area of the gaseous hydrogen vent arm, but no obvious signs of damage were seen.

LeRoy Cain, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team and director of shuttle integration at the Kennedy Space Center, delayed Atlantis' launch for at least 24 hours, from Sunday to Monday at 4:04:18 p.m., to give engineers time to inspect the vent arm system and to carry out additional tests and analyses. The forecast Monday and Tuesday is 80 percent "go."

The MMT will meet again at 10 a.m. Sunday to hear an update from the engineering community and to make a decision about whether to proceed to launch Monday or order an additional delay. As of this writing, it's not at all clear how that discussion might go.

Video of the lightning strike at pad 39B showed a large bolt hitting the mast atop the shuttle gantry that anchors the pad's lightning protection system. The shuttle wasn't hit and other than the slight 20-millisecond spike in the shuttle electrical bus, and the concern about the hydrogen pyrotechnic device, there are no other known problems.

"I did press pretty hard to see if it made sense in any way, shape or form to reconvene the team later today to attempt to see if we might be able to still have a viable launch opportunity tomorrow," Cain said. "And based on everything I heard, it was pretty clear to me that we need to let the folks go off and look at their data. So that's what we're going to do.

"We have a launch period here that allows us to go do that. We need to make sure we have a good ground and flight system. So the mission management team will reconvene tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. and we'll see where we are."

The goal of the 116th shuttle mission is to deliver a $372 million solar array truss segment to the international space station, a complex assembly task requiring three spacewalks to complete.

The shuttle's launch window, based on a requirement to launch in daylight and to avoid conflict with a Russian Soyuz launch, runs through Sept. 7. Atlantis' fuel cell system has enough on-board liquid oxygen and hydrogen for launch attempts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, although NASA does not usually make three attempts in a row.

After that, NASA managers would have to discuss a variety of options based on when the shuttle's fuel cell supplies would need to be topped off to preserve the option of extending the mission in orbit if necessary. Before today's scrub, NASA's launch strategy called for seven launch tries between Sunday and Sept. 7.

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS DIAL-UP | BROADBAND

VIDEO: LAUNCH DATE ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: COMPLETE PREVIEW OF ATLANTIS MISSION PLAY
VIDEO: DETAILS OF THE THREE SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: MEET THE SIX ASTRONAUTS PLAY

VIDEO: CREW LAUNCH PAD PRESS CHAT DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ARRIVES AT LAUNCH PAD 39B PLAY
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING BEGINS PLAY
VIDEO: TRUSS IN PAD'S PAYLOAD ROOM PLAY
VIDEO: PAYLOAD HOISTED INTO THE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: STATION TRUSS PAYLOAD DELIVERED TO PAD PLAY
MORE: STS-115 VIDEO COVERAGE
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