Shuttle launch timed to catch orbiting space station
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
Posted: August 29, 2000
As of this writing, the launch window is expected to open around 8:45 a.m. EDT (1245 GMT), but that time will be adjusted slightly based on final radar tracking of the space station.
At the controls will be commander Terrence Wilcutt, pilot Scott Altman and flight engineer Richard Mastracchio. Their crewmates are Edward Lu, Daniel Burbank and two Russian cosmonauts, Mir-veteran Yuri Malenchenko and physician Boris Morukov. Wilcutt, Altman, Lu and Malenchenko are space veterans while the rest are rookies.
Assuming an on-time liftoff, Atlantis will catch up with the international space station on Sept. 10 - flight day three - approaching from behind and below before looping up in front of the target and then on to a point 450 feet directly above.
Atlantis will lock itself to a pressurized mating adaptor, or PMA, attached to one end of the multi-hatch Unity node, launched by NASA in December 1998. At the other end of the Unity module is another PMA that connects to the Russian-built NASA-financed Zarya propulsion module, launched in November 1998.
Zarya, in turn, is attached to the Zvezda module and the Progress 251 supply ship is docked to a port at the far end of the new command module. Once docked, the 128,000-pound (58,000 kilogram) space station will tower some 130 feet (40 meters) above Atlantis's cargo bay.
"When we get there, the station's going to be about the height of a 13-story building, so it is going to be a very visually imposing structure," said Lu.
OPENING ASSEMBLY FLOODGATES | LAUNCH TIMED TO CATCH ISS |
SPACEWALK TO WIRE UP STATION | MAKING A HOME IN SPACE