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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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Crews awakened by false fire, depressurization alarms
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 19, 2009


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The crews of the shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station were awakened Thursday night by what flight controllers quickly concluded was a false alarm indicating a sudden depressurization. That false alarm caused ventilation fans to shut down, resulting in a fire alarm tripping in the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory module.

But after checks on the ground and in orbit, flight controllers concluded the station was safe. While the cause of the initial false depressurization alarm was not immediately clear, officials said the crews were in no danger.

"It appears a false indication of a rapid depressurization led to the automatic shutdown of ventilation fans through the station, which in turn led to a false smoke detection in the Columbus laboratory," said mission control commentator Kelly Humphries. "The crew is in no danger, there is no rapid depressurization, there appears to be no smoke, just some dust that got into one of the smoke detectors in the Columbus lab as a result of the ventilation fans being shut off.

"Everything is looking good on board the station so far, but the team is continuing to step through their emergency procedures just as a precaution."

The initial depressurization alarm tripped at 8:36 p.m. EST, waking the astronauts and kicking off a flurry of calm-but-hurried troubleshooting. It was quickly apparent the station's internal pressure was stable, but flight controllers in the United States, Europe and Russian worked through a series of checks to make sure there was no threat to the station.

"Station, Houston, on the big loop. So Frank, with those readings we concur with you, atmosphere is good," Ryan Lien radioed from mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We believe this was a false fire (alarm) due to the lack of ventilation in Columbus as well as lack of ventilation throughout the stack that was probably caused by that false rapid depress indication. We did not see a depress event on the ground, we just started seeing caution-and-warning events. So we're going to stand down from the emergency at this point and work on recovery and examination of that depress event. Believed to be a false alarm at this point."

Lien later told station commander Frank De Winne the initial alarm might have originated with a new Russian docking module that was attached to the station earlier this month.

"Everything we're seeing right now, ISS, the whole stack is in a stable and safe config first and foremost," he said. "Everything is shut down, the vehicle followed its depress response based on what we think was maybe the MRM-2 (mini-research module). Telemetry to confirm that source being MRM-2 is a little hazy right now, we're trying to get those words."

Lein said it would take another hour or so to reactivate the ventilation system.

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
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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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