Launch: July 8, 2011
Time: 11:29 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: July 21 @ approx. 5:57 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility
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Cdr Chris Ferguson
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Live coverage of space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page. Follow us on Twitter.
SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2011CAPCOM Megan McArthur just radioed the Atlantis astronauts that no problems with the space shuttle's heat shield have been seen during the inspection process. So the recommendation to tomorrow's Mission Management Team meeting is that no "focused inspection" will be required to gain further up-close checks of any areas of concern.
2208 GMT (6:08 p.m. EDT)
2135 GMT (5:35 p.m. EDT)Bringing more than five tons of supplies and equipment, the shuttle Atlantis caught up with the International Space Station Sunday, pausing 600 feet below the lab complex for a spectacular, never-to-be-seen-again back-flip maneuver before pressing ahead for a flawless docking, the 37th and final shuttle-station linkup.
LeRoy Cain, chairman of NASA's mission management team, told reporters Sunday afternoon that engineers were optimistic Atlantis will have enough hydrogen and oxygen to power the shuttle's electricity producing fuel cells to extend the mission one day, giving the astronauts more time to transfer supplies and equipment to and from the space station.
If all goes well, the astronauts will use the space station's robot arm Monday to move a bus-size cargo module from Atlantis' cargo bay to an Earth-facing port on the Harmony segment, setting the stage for a busy week of logistics transfer work. A spacewalk is planned Tuesday by Garan and Fossum.
But Cain said flight controllers are closely tracking a piece of debris from an old Russian satellite that may pass relatively close to the shuttle-station complex around mid-day Tuesday, during the planned spacewalk.The size of the debris and its distance at closest approach was not immediately known.
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1951 GMT (3:51 p.m. EDT)The two astronaut crews have worked together this afternoon to use the space station's robotic arm and reach into Atlantis' payload bay and pluck out Orbiter Boom Sensor System. The 50-foot-long then got handed over to the shuttle's arm to hold.
This bit of robotics work clears the inspection boom out of the bay, clearing the path for the Raffaello module's unberthing tomorrow.
The shuttle arm is unable to reach the boom while docked to the station, so the station arm has to be do the boom relocation work. The shuttle arm will hold the boom through the rest of the docked mission.
1655 GMT (12:55 p.m. EDT)WELCOME ABOARD! The four shuttle astronauts are being welcomed aboard the outpost by the six-person International Space Station resident crew right now.
Expedition 28 includes commander commander Andrey Borisenko, cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev, American astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.
1654 GMT (12:54 p.m. EDT)HATCHES OPEN. The hatchway between Atlantis and the space station was opened at 12:47 p.m. EDT.
1607 GMT (12:07 p.m. EDT)The passageway between the two spacecraft has been pressurized and leak checks are well underway now. Mission Control says activities are progressing significantly ahead of schedule.
1540 GMT (11:40 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is maneuvering the station into the desired orientation with the shuttle flying on the aft end of the complex. This keeps the shuttle's heat shield out of the direction of travel to guard against space debris hits.
1518 GMT (11:18 a.m. EDT)The docking ring has been retracted and the hooks and latches have driven shut to firmly connect the shuttle to the space station for its visit. A series of leak checks between the docking ports will take the better part of the next two hours before the hatch opening and welcoming ceremony can occur.
1514 GMT (11:14 a.m. EDT)Atlantis' docking mechanism is pulling the two craft together.
1510 GMT (11:10 a.m. EDT)The relative motions of the shuttle and station will be allowed to damp out over the next few minutes by the spring-loaded docking system. Later, the hooks and latches will be closed to firmly join the two craft and Atlantis' Orbiter Docking System docking ring will be retracted to form a tight seal.
The opening of hatches between the station and shuttle is expected in about two hours. That will be followed by a welcoming ceremony and safety briefing.
1508 GMT (11:08 a.m. EDT)Docking occurred precisely on-time at 11:07 a.m. EDT as the spacecraft flew 240 miles above the South Pacific.
1507 GMT (11:07 a.m. EDT)CONTACT AND CAPTURE! America's final space shuttle has arrived at the International Space Station, the science laboratory it trucked piece by piece to orbit for assembly, to deliver one last massive load of goods and provisions that only the winged spaceplanes can carry.
1506 GMT (11:06 a.m. EDT)Current distance now six feet.
1505 GMT (11:05 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's thrusters are programmed to fire in a post-contact maneuver to force the two docking ports together. That procedure is being armed.
1504 GMT (11:04 a.m. EDT)Range now 15 feet, alignment is spot-on.
1504 GMT (11:04 a.m. EDT)Now inside 20 feet from docking.
1503 GMT (11:03 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's approach must remain within a cylinder that's three inches and a closure rate of 0.10 feet per second plus or minus .03.
1502 GMT (11:02 a.m. EDT)The final approach covering the last 30 feet is underway.
1502 GMT (11:02 a.m. EDT)The alignment looks good between docking ports on Atlantis and the space station. No fly-out required.
1501 GMT (11:01 a.m. EDT)About 34 feet separate the shuttle and station as they fly south of New Zealand.
1459 GMT (10:59 a.m. EDT)Now 52 feet from docking, with the shuttle closing at about 0.15 feet per second.
1456 GMT (10:56 a.m. EDT)Mission Control projects the docking could occur around 11:15 a.m., based on the current rate.
1455 GMT (10:55 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is 89 feet in front of the station complex.
1452 GMT (10:52 a.m. EDT)Nearing the 100-foot mark as the two spacecraft pass near nighttime Australia.
1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)The docking mechanism in Atlantis' payload bay has been powered up by the astronauts.
1445 GMT (10:45 a.m. EDT)Range now 181 feet, closing at 0.14 feet per second.
1443 GMT (10:43 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is being flown manually by commander Chris Ferguson. A veteran of two previous shuttle missions to the International Space Station, he initially flew as pilot on Atlantis' STS-115 mission in 2006 that installed another solar power truss on the International Space Station and commander of Endeavour's STS-126 mission in 2008 that brought up critical equipment to remodel the outpost's interior in preparation for doubling the size of its resident crews.
1439 GMT (10:39 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is 241 feet away from the docking port and closing at about 0.25 feet per second.
1438 GMT (10:38 a.m. EDT)The spacecraft are flying 240 miles over the Indian Ocean.
1436 GMT (10:36 a.m. EDT)The two spacecraft are flying into orbital sunset. Docking is scheduled to occur right a few minutes before the next sunrise.
1432 GMT (10:32 a.m. EDT)For the final time, the flight control team has been polled and given its "go" for docking of Atlantis to the International Space Station. This is the 46th time in 135 mission that a shuttle has linked up with an orbiting space station -- 9 times to Mir, 37 to the ISS.
1431 GMT (10:31 a.m. EDT)The shuttle has reached a point directly in front of the station along the imaginary line called the velocity vector, or +V bar.
1423 GMT (10:23 a.m. EDT)The distance between the two spacecraft now measured at 470 feet.
1422 GMT (10:22 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is marking the arc from the point beneath the station to a point in front of the complex to align with the docking port on the Harmony module. Docking is about 45 minutes away.
1419 GMT (10:19 a.m. EDT)The spacecraft are passing 239 miles over Europe.
1414 GMT (10:14 a.m. EDT)The pitch maneuver has been completed. Atlantis is back in the orientation where it started, with the payload bay looking up at the station.
1411 GMT (10:11 a.m. EDT)The main engine nozzles of Atlantis are facing the station now as the shuttle points its tail upward.
1409 GMT (10:09 a.m. EDT)The spacecraft are formation-flying about 600 feet apart as they fly over the Central Atlantic.
1408 GMT (10:08 a.m. EDT)The formal photo-taking period has started for the Expedition crew positioned at windows in the Zvezda service module, now that the shuttle has rotated its underside in view of the station complex.
1407 GMT (10:07 a.m. EDT)"Poetry in motion," NASA commentator Rob Navias says from Mission Control.
1407 GMT (10:07 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is nose-up facing the station.
1405 GMT (10:05 a.m. EDT)The rendezvous pitch maneuver -- the 360-degree flip -- is beginning. The shuttle is the under the control of commander Chris Ferguson, who is flying the ship from the aft flight deck.
As the shuttle's underside rotates into view, the station's crew will photograph Atlantis' belly with handheld digital cameras equipped with 400- and 800-millimeter lenses as part of post-launch inspections of the heat shield.
The 800mm images taken by Mike Fossum should provide one-inch resolution for examination of landing gear door and external tank umbilical door seals. The 400mm taken by Satoshi Furukawa will yield three-inch resolution.
After completing the RPM maneuver, Atlantis will fly directly ahead of the space station with the shuttle's nose facing deep space and its cargo bay pointed at the lab complex. Then commander Ferguson will guide the spacecraft to a docking with a pressurized mating adapter attached to the Harmony connecting module.
1404 GMT (10:04 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's closure rate has slowed in preparation for commander Chris Ferguson to park Atlantis directly below the space station for the upcoming backflip.
1402 GMT (10:02 a.m. EDT)The orbiter is 650 feet beneath the station now, closing at just 0.4 feet per second.
1401 GMT (10:01 a.m. EDT)Station astronauts are getting ready for their job to photograph Atlantis' heat shield during the backflip about five minutes from now.
1357 GMT (9:57 a.m. EDT)All of Atlantis' upward-firing thrusters are inhibited to protect the space station from any pluming.
1351 GMT (9:51 a.m. EDT)Mission Control has given the shuttle crew a "go" for the backflip maneuver. The 360-degree flip should start in about 15 minutes.
1349 GMT (9:49 a.m. EDT)One final mid-course correction burn just occurred as Atlantis flies toward the station.
1340 GMT (9:40 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is inside 4,700 feet now, closing at 7.1 feet per second.
1339 GMT (9:39 a.m. EDT)The third course correction has been completed to tweak the flight path toward the International Space Station.
1337 GMT (9:37 a.m. EDT)Just about 90 minutes from docking. All continues to go well in today's rendezvous.
1322 GMT (9:22 a.m. EDT)Atlantis has performed another of the available mid-course burns.
1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)Voice communications have been established on the "big loop" between the shuttle and station crews so the astronauts can talk to each other on one channel.
1305 GMT (9:05 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is 35,000 feet from the station, closing at about 17 feet per second. The speed will ease over the next hour until Atlantis completely stops beneath the station for the backflip maneuver.
1249 GMT (8:49 a.m. EDT)The shuttle just completed the first of four available mid-course correction burns during this approach to the station.
1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT)With about 9 miles separating Atlantis from the International Space Station, the shuttle has performed the 12-second Terminal Initiation burn using the left-hand Orbital Maneuvering System engine.
The TI burn puts the shuttle on a trajectory to directly intercept the orbiting station over the next orbit and a half. The burn is the latest in a series of maneuvers performed by Atlantis during its two days of chasing the station since launch Friday.
Docking is anticipated at 11:07 a.m. EDT.
1203 GMT (8:03 a.m. EDT)CAPCOM Steve Robinson in Mission Control has radioed approval to the shuttle's crew for the Terminal Initiation burn that's scheduled to occur at 8:29 a.m. EDT. Both the shuttle and the station flight control teams report all is in readiness this morning.
1155 GMT (7:55 a.m. EDT)Atlantis is now 16 nautical miles from the station.
1135 GMT (7:35 a.m. EDT)As Atlantis continues to close in, the station is 34 nautical miles away now.
1132 GMT (7:32 a.m. EDT)The crew just performed the NCC burn, a pulsing of the reaction control jets to refine the shuttle's trajectory. Atlantis remains on track for docking at 11:07 a.m. EDT today.
1103 GMT (7:03 a.m. EDT)The NH burn, a major orbit raising maneuver by Atlantis' twin maneuvering engines, has been completed successfully. This has circularized the orbit near the space station's altitude. This 1-minute, 31-second firing changed the shuttle's velocity by 144 feet per second.
1050 GMT (6:50 a.m. EDT)Bringing more than five tons of supplies and equipment, the shuttle Atlantis closed in on the International Space Station early Sunday, on course for the shuttle program's 37th and final docking since the lab's assembly began in 1998.
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0845 GMT (4:45 a.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. C) can be downloaded here.
0731 GMT (3:31 a.m. EDT)The wakeup call -- "Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra -- has been sounded to Atlantis' crew to begin Flight Day 3.
This is docking day for the space shuttle, which will arrive at the International Space Station after a two-day chase since launch. Rendezvous operations will begin in about two hours. The Terminal Initiation burn is scheduled for 8:29 a.m. and the 360-degree backflip maneuver in expected to start at 10:06 a.m. EDT. Atlantis should link up with the space station around 11:07 a.m. EDT.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
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