Spaceflight Now: STS-101 Mission Report

Atlantis launch scrubbed

Posted: April 24, 2000

Commander Jim Halsell returns to the Crew Quarters after Monday's launch scrub. Photo: NASA/KSC
Gusty crosswinds at the emergency landing strip at Kennedy Space Center forced NASA officials today to call off the planned launch of space shuttle Atlantis on a servicing mission to the International Space Station.

The launch has been tentatively reset for Tuesday at 3:52 p.m. EDT (1952 GMT), the opening of a five-minute window.

But with a dismal weather forecast in front of them, NASA officials will meet before sunrise Tuesday to decide whether its worth fueling Atlantis for another try at launching into space. Meterologists give only a 20 percent chance the winds will ease by Tuesday afternoon.

Crosswinds gusting up to 21 knots, above the maximum 17-knot limit, were the culprit in Monday's postponement. The weather at KSC's the three-mile-long runway must be favorable in the event Atlantis had to abort the launch and return to Earth during the first minutes of flight.

Chief NASA astronaut Charlie Precourt flying in the Shuttle Training Aircraft at the runway reported the crosswinds were not a problem for him during weather reconnaissance landings. However, the space agency's rules state the shuttle cannot be landed in crosswinds above 17 knots.

"It looks like the winds are just a little bit too high today, and we're not going to be able to make it," KSC launch director Dave King radioed the crew from the Firing Room.

"We understand, and we sure appreciate everybody's hard work to try to get us off today," replied Commander Jim Halsell from aboard Atlantis. "We'll wait for conditions to get better."

The launch team was told after the scrub to prepare for a 24-hour turnaround for the shuttle and ground support systems.

Atlantis' flight will have to be extended to 11 days if the launch occurs Tuesday because it will take an extra day to reach the International Space Station due to orbital mechanics. Instead of reaching the outpost two days into the mission, docking will now occur three days after launch -- or Friday morning at 9:47 a.m. EDT (1347 GMT).

The seven Atlantis astronauts will replace a host of faulty equipment aboard the 16-month old station and one spacewalk is planned. More than one ton of supplies will be delivered to the station, too.

Landing back at Kennedy Space Center would be slated for on May 6 at 11:53 a.m. EDT (1553 GMT).

Pre-launch briefing
STS-101 index - See a listing off all our STS-101 stories and coverage.

Mission preview - A special report package on Atlantis' repair mission and its astronauts.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Video vault
NASA launch director Dave King announces the launch is scrubbed due to high crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
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The seven-member crew of space shuttle Atlantis leave their quarters for the launch pad.
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The sun sets on launch complex 39A and the rotating service structure is pulled away from the shuttle. One hour is compressed into seconds in this time lapsed video.
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