Launch logjam pushes Atlantis back to May 18
BY STEVEN YOUNG
Posted: April 28, 2000
The space agency had considered bumping the May 3 liftoff of the GOES-L satellite in favor of the shuttle rather than wait weeks for the next available launch date. But with hurricane season approaching, NASA's space flight chief Joe Rothenberg decided GOES should take priority over the shuttle.
The shuttle's mission will now slip to May 18, the first available launch slot from Cape Canaveral. Tracking and safety equipment, operated by the U.S. Air Force, is fully booked until then (see the Tracking Station for a full list of upcoming launches). A launch on the 18th would occur at about 6:33 a.m. EDT (1033 GMT).
Flight dynamics experts will spend the next week determining if the station's orbit must be refined to provide the shuttle with daily launch opportunities. Currently, a launch on May 18 would lead to a lengthy four-day rendezvous with the station. The 19th would be a more desirable flight day three docking and the 20th does not offer any docking opportunities.
Any adjustment of the station's orbit, using the Zarya module's thrusters, will not occur before May 6, according to a NASA status report.
GOES gets to go first
Once in space, GOES-L will be tested and then placed into storage. It will be pressed into service when either GOES-8 or -10 fails.
GOES-8, needed for Atlantic hurricane tracking, has already exceeded its five-year life expectancy.
NOAA wants to the new GOES satellite in orbit as a backup during most of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs June 1 through October 31. GOES spacecraft are critical tools in tracking hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and forecasting other severe weather.
"GOES satellites are a mainstay of weather forecasting in the United States," said Gerry Dittberner, NOAA's GOES program manager.
When Atlantis finally reaches the space station, its crew of seven astronauts will patch up faltering power systems, installing four new batteries, replacing three current converters and two current converter controllers. Russia will meet the $1.3 million cost of the replacement components.
The astronauts will also make a spacewalk to secure a loose crane and deliver more than one ton of supplies to the station.
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.
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Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.
Atlantis' launch is postponed a third time because of weather. Rain, cloud and winds at the emergency landing sites in Africa and Spain are blamed.
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NASA launch director Dave King announces Atlantis' launch is scrubbed for a second time due to high crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
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The seven-member crew of space shuttle Atlantis leave their quarters on Tuesday for a second launch attempt.
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NASA launch director Dave King announces the launch is scrubbed due to high crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
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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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