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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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Astronauts inspect heat shield of shuttle Atlantis
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 25, 2009


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The shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station early Wednesday, carried out a photo-documentation fly around and inspected the ship's critical nose cap and wing leading edge panels to make sure they haven't been damaged since a similar inspection the day after launch.

During a planned waste water dump to offload urine and condensate collected over the past week or so, the astronauts ran into a problem with an apparently clogged discharge line.

"The tank can hold 165 pounds and we only managed to get it down to about 80 pounds of liquid waste on board Atlantis," said Flight Director Mike Sarafin. "We believe there's a blockage in the line that basically vents the waste water out into space and the folks here on the ground are working on that."

A quick look with a camera on the shuttle's robot arm showed no obvious signs of problems with the waste water discharge nozzle on the left side of ship's fuselage.

With the tank only half full, the astronauts have no immediate problem and should be in good shape "as is" through Friday, when Atlantis is scheduled to land back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"I'm confident the team will come up with a backup plan should we need to offload that waste tank," Sarafin said. "Right now, we've obviously got some margin in the waste tank. We've done some rough calculations here on the ground and we know we can make it through landing day without having any problems or needing any contingency procedures or in-flight maintenance procedures. It's only if we extend past the planned landing day on Friday that we may have to take additional measures.

"Folks are obviously working those plans right now to see if we can't basically unclog the dump line and see if we can get that tank emptied tomorrow," he said. "The hope is we will be able to get it emptied."

The forecast for landing Friday in Florida calls for light clouds and winds down runway 33 out of 340 degrees at 14 knots with gusts to 21. That works out to a crosswind of just 4 knots or so and a headwind gusting to nearly 21 knots, 4 knots below NASA's limit. Conditions improve Saturday, with lighter winds.

"There's a pretty good chance that we'll come home on Friday," Sarafin said.

The astronauts, meanwhile, pressed ahead with a post-undocking heat shield inspection Wednesday, using a laser scanner and cameras on the end of a 50-foot-long robot arm extension to examine the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels, which experience the most extreme heating during re-entry.

A similar inspection was carried out the day after launch nine days ago and this final look, a routine feature of post-Columbia shuttle missions, was intended to find any damage that might have occurred due to meteoroid or space debris impacts over the course of Atlantis' mission.

"The folks are using the boom sensor system to sweep and scan up and down the reinforced carbon carbon surfaces on the port and starboard wing as well as the nose cap to make sure Atlantis is ready to come hom following the roughly week on orbit in the orbital debris environment," Sarafin said. "The team on the ground will review that imagery over the next 12 to 24 hours to make a final determination (that) all is well."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 10 PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 9 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ASTRONAUTS BID FAREWELL TO STATION CREW PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE STATION EXPEDITION CHANGE OF COMMAND PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION CREW JOINT CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 9 PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 8 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ENDING OF MISSION'S THIRD AND FINAL SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS INSTALL OXYGEN TANK ONTO AIRLOCK PLAY
VIDEO: HIGH-PRESSURE OXYGEN TANK REMOVED FROM PALLET PLAY
VIDEO: GATHERING SCIENCE CASES FROM SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 8 PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA FROM LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION PLAY

VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH RANDY AND REBECCA PLAY
VIDEO: BIRTH OF BABY BRESNIK ANNOUNCED FROM ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: EDUCATIONAL EVENT WITH TENNESSEE TECH UNIVERSITY PLAY
VIDEO: WASHINGTON, TAMPA AND CHICAGO MEDIA INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 6 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS INSTALL WIRELESS VIDEO ANTENNA PLAY
VIDEO: MEASUREMENT PROBE RELOCATED ON STATION TRUSSES PLAY
VIDEO: EXPERIMENTAL COMMUNICATION PACKAGE INSTALLED PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SPARE PARTS PALLET MOVED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP SUMMARY OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 6 PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ESPN, BET AND RICHMOND TV INTERVIEWS PLAY
VIDEO: MELVIN AND SATCHER ON MORNING RADIO SHOW PLAY
VIDEO: CBS, NASHVILLE TV AND FOX RADIO INTERVIEWS PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SPAEWALKERS HAMMER STUCK BRACE ON TRUSS PLAY
VIDEO: MAINTENANCE WORK ON JAPANESE ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: ENJOYING THE VIEW OF SHUTTLE AND STATION PLAY
VIDEO: REFURBISHED S-BAND ANTENNA INSTALLED PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS MOVE ANTENNA FROM SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 1 GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP SUMMARY OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF ACTIVITIES ON FLIGHT DAY 4 PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW PLAY

VIDEO: AERIAL LAUNCH AND SRB SPLASHDOWN FOOTAGE PLAY

VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE 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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