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The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-129
Payload: ISS ULF 3
Launch: Nov. 16, 2009
Time: 2:28 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: Nov. 27 @ 9:44 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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Shuttle's heat shield cleared; Spacewalk No. 1 a success
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 19, 2009


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The shuttle Atlantis' heat shield has been cleared for re-entry as is after an exhaustive review of data and imagery that showed no problems of any significance with the ship's protective tiles, its reinforced carbon carbon nose cap and wing leading edge panels, NASA officials said Thursday.

The Damage Assessment Team, or DAT, presented a final summary to NASA's Mission Management Team, concluding the reinforced carbon carbon components, which experience the most extreme heating during entry, are "in great shape."

"For the TPS (thermal protection system tiles and blankets), only four areas required further analysis," the MMT said in a summary message to the Atlantis astronauts. "These four areas were all very minor and cleared with standard analysis techniques."

A block of time had been reserved Friday for a focused inspection if any problem areas were found that warranted additional scrutiny. Commander Charles Hobaugh and his crewmates were informed earlier Thursday that a focused inspection would not be required. Station Flight Director Brian Smith said the crew would put the extra time to good use.

"We launch a certain quantity of items on the shuttle that need to get transferred to the space station," he said. "We estimated on this flight we needed about 35 hours of that time. ... We build a baseline plan that doesn't accommodate much of that transfer time on flight day five (Friday) because we need to preserve that time for robotic operations associated with focused inspection.

"With those robotic operations deleted, we'll just pull some of that transfer time ahead and we'll get ahead of the game on that. Not all that exciting, but for those of us who worry about transfer at the end, because we're always racing at the end to get it done, we're very happy to see a lot of that time get put on flight day five. It's going to put us in a good posture."

Saving time on another front, astronauts Michael Foreman and Robert Satcher completed the objectives of the crew's first spacewalk Thursday some two hours ahead of schedule. That allowed time for them to deploy a cargo mounting mechanism on the station's right-side solar power truss that had been scheduled for the crew's second spacewalk Saturday.

Lead spacewalk officer Sarah Kazukiewicz Korona said a similar mechanism scheduled for deployment during a third and final spacewalk Monday will be moved up to Saturday and that a similar task scheduled for a future mission will be added to the final spacewalk.

Satcher and Foreman mounted a spare S-band antenna assembly on the station to begin Thursday's spacewalk, finishing well ahead of schedule. Satcher then lubricated the latching snares used to secure payloads to a Japanese robot arm and the station's mobile transporter while Foreman completed an electrical connection left over from an earlier mission and routed antenna cables needed by a future assembly crew. He also installed an ammonia coolant line bracket and secured debris shields that had been temporarily tethered in place during an earlier mission.

"It was a fantastic EVA," said Kazukiewicz Korona.

While the spacewalkers were busy outside the station, the lab crew was busy inside making preparations for the attachment of a new module in February. The module, known informally as node 3 and formally as Tranquility, originally was to be attached to the Earth-facing port of the Unity module. It will be attached instead to Unity's left-side hatch.

"So all the plumbing and the fluid lines, power and data lines, that were built down into the nadir location in node 1, we have to move all that to the port location which is where node 3's going to be attached," Smith said.

"So we brought up two huge bags worth of hardware that will help us route all the fluid lines, the air ventilation lines, power and data lines from the nadir location over to the port location. That work the crew was doing today and they got pretty far ahead on that. They're going to work a lot on that tomorrow and also on flight day six."

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP SUMMARY OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: AERIAL LAUNCH AND SRB SPLASHDOWN FOOTAGE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SPARE PARTS CARRIER INSTALLED ONTO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARM HANDS PALLET TO STATION'S ARM PLAY
VIDEO: LOGISTICS CARRIER 1 UNBERTHED FROM SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE CREW FLOATS INTO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS DOCKS TO THE SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE PERFORMS 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY
VIDEO: BEAUTIFUL VIEWS OF ATLANTIS APPROACHING PLAY
VIDEO: SUMMARY OF THE SPARE PARTS PALLETS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF PALLET NO. 1 DELIVERY ON FLIGHT DAY 3 PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF RENDEZVOUS AND DOCKING PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES LOGISTICS CARRIER 1 PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 2 PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED TOUR OF THE PAYLOAD BAY PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL ROOM PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAYS: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: CREW FINISHES GETTING SUITED UP PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS LEAVE CREW QUARTERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LIFTOFF OF SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS! PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PLAYALINDA BEACH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS HI-DEF

VIDEO: STUNNING SUNSET ROLLBACK OF PAD GANTRY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: A LOOK AT SPACE STATION SCIENCE RESEARCH PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-129 PRE-LAUNCH PRESS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: NARRATED MISSION OVERVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MEET SHUTTLE ATLANTIS' ASTRONAUTS PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS TOUR PAD'S CLEANROOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BOARDS SHUTTLE FOR TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PAYLOADS DELIVERED TO PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: PLACING PAYLOADS INTO TRANSPORTER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES AT CAPE FOR TRAINING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-129 MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ROLLOUT IN FAST-FORWARD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS TAKES PERCH ATOP PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM ASSEMBLY BUILDING BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ASSEMBLY IN FAST-FORWARD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF ATLANTIS ATTACHED TO FUEL TANK PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS LEAVES HANGAR FOR NEXT LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF ATLANTIS ARRIVING IN VAB PLAY
VIDEO: CLOSING ATLANTIS' PAYLOAD BAY DOORS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FUEL TANK ATTACHED TO SOLID ROCKETS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS MAKE A VISIT TO THE CAPE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER DOCKING SYSTEM CHECKED OUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS' FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM BARGE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK ARRIVES AT THE LAUNCH SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
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