Spaceflight Now

The Mission

Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-117
Launch: June 8, 2007
Time: 7:38 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: June 22 @ 3:49 p.m. EDT
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California

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Video archive

Atlantis date set

NASA leaders hold this news briefing to announce shuttle Atlantis' launch date and recap the Flight Readiness Review.


Phoenix: At the Cape

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STS-63: A rendezvous with space station Mir

As a prelude to future dockings between American space shuttles and the Russian space station Mir, the two countries had a test rendezvous in Feb. 1995.


"Apollo 17: On The Shoulders of Giants"

Apollo's final lunar voyage is relived in this movie. The film depicts the highlights of Apollo 17's journey to Taurus-Littrow and looks to the future Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and shuttle programs.


Atlantis returns to pad

Two months after rolling off the launch pad to seek repairs to the hail-damaged external fuel tank, space shuttle Atlantis returns to pad 39A for mission STS-117.

 Part 1 | Part 2

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Crew's first full day in space will be a busy one
Posted: June 9, 2007

The Atlantis astronauts were awakened a few minutes past 10 a.m. for their first full day in space by a recording of "Big Boy Toys" beamed up from mission control in Houston.

"Good morning, Houston, thanks to my wife, Michelle, and my kids for playing that song," commander Rick Sturckow radioed.

The astronauts plan to spend the day testing spacesuits that will be used during three spacewalks at the international space station next week; checking out the tools they will use during rendezvous with the station Sunday; and carrying out a detailed inspection of the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels.

The heat shield inspection, using Atlantis' robot arm and a 50-foot extension known as the orbiter boom sensor system, or OBSS, is a now-standard part of every shuttle flight to look for any signs of impact damage that might have occurred during launch.

While engineers are still reviewing launch imagery, no major debris could be seen in video from a camera mounted on the side of the shuttle's external tank that was aimed at the ship's belly. The only damage seen so far is a pulled-up corner, a few inches across, of an insulation blanket on Atlantis' left-side orbital maneuvering system rocket pod.

"It doesn't look too bad, but we knew everybody would want to look at it down there," Sturckow radioed before the crew went to bed last night.

The re-entry environment on the upper part of the shuttle is relatively benign and the protruding blanket did not appear to be a serious issue. But engineers have not completed their assessment and it's too soon to say what impact, if any, it might have. Mission managers likely will address the issue at a daily news briefing scheduled for 7 p.m. to review the day's activities and the results of initial inspections.

For today's OBSS inspections, a laser sensor on the end of the boom will be used to look for any wing leading edge damage that could pose a threat to the shuttle. The reinforced carbon carbon - RCC- nose cap and leading edge panels experience the most extreme heat during re-entry - more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit - and even minor damage can have serious consequences.

The astronauts will start with the starboard, or right-side, wing leading edge, making multiple passes up and down the wing to cover all the angles. After scanning the nose cap, they will move on to the port wing and repeat the procedure.

For Atlantis' flight, the inspection procedures have been modified based on lessons learned during the previous three post-Columbia missions. The scans will take less time, cover a larger area and incorporate the use of a camera on the end of the OBSS to take close-up photographs at the same time the laser scanner is collecting data. With high-resolution photos in hand, flight controllers hope to avoid the need for potential "focused inspections" later, if analysis of the laser data indicates any areas of concern.

The astronauts will need 75 to 90 minutes to complete the starboard leading edge scan, 50 minutes for the nosecap and another 90 minutes for the left wing. The new scanning procedure covers most of the crew cabin as well, eliminating the need for separate photo scans of the cabin. All in all, the flight day two thermal protection system inspections will only take about four hours instead of six.

Here is an updated timeline of today's activities (include revision B of the NASA TV schedule; in EDT and mission elapsed time):


Sat 10:08 AM...00...14...30...Crew wakeup
Sat 12:43 PM...00...17...05...NC-2 rendezvous rocket firing
Sat 12:43 PM...00...17...05...Spacesuit checkout preps
Sat 12:48 PM...00...17...10...Robot arm (RMS) powerup
Sat 01:03 PM...00...17...25...OBSS unberthing
Sat 01:13 PM...00...17...35...Spacesuit checkout
Sat 02:03 PM...00...18...25...OBSS surveys starboard wing
Sat 02:58 PM...00...19...20...Spacesuit transfer preps
Sat 03:33 PM...00...19...55...OBSS surveys nose cap
Sat 04:23 PM...00...20...45...Crew meals begin
Sat 05:23 PM...00...21...45...OBSS surveys port wing
Sat 06:38 PM...00...23...00...Ergometer setup
Sat 06:53 PM...00...23...15...OBSS berthing
Sat 07:00 PM...00...23...22...Mission status briefing on NTV
Sat 07:08 PM...00...23...30...Centerline camera installation
Sat 07:38 PM...01...00...00...Orbiter docking system ring extension
Sat 08:03 PM...01...00...25...Laser dynamic range imager downlink
Sat 08:33 PM...01...00...55...Wing leading edge sensor system downlink
Sat 08:43 PM...01...01...05...Rendezvous tools checkout
Sat 09:15 PM...01...01...37...NC-3 rendezvous rocket firing
Sat 10:08 PM...01...02...30...LDRI downlink

Sun 01:08 AM...01...05...30...Crew sleep begins
Sun 02:00 AM...01...06...22...Video highlights reel (repeated hourly)
Sun 09:08 AM...01...13...30...STS/ISS crew wakeup
During final approach to the space station on Sunday, Expedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Oleg Kotov and Sunita Williams will use digital still and video cameras to photograph the heat shield tiles on the shuttle's belly.




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