Launch team battles back from weather delays
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 26, 2006
The shuttle Atlantis' countdown is back on track today after delays Friday because of stormy weather. More afternoon storms are expected today and again tomorrow, prompting forecasters to predict a 60 percent chance of weather that would block the shuttle's planned 4:30 p.m. Sunday launch on a space station assembly mission.
Shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters said a high pressure ridge has not moved north as fast as expected, resulting in sea breeze-driven afternoon storms along Florida's coast. If the ridge moves far enough north, prevailing winds will tend to drive those storms inland but it's too soon to say whether Atlantis's crew will catch a break Sunday.
The outlook for Monday and Tuesday is 80 percent "go."
NASA test director Jeff Spaulding said the launch team completed work to load the shuttle's fuel cell system Friday night, getting the countdown back on track after the work was interrupted earlier in the day. There are no other technical problems at pad 39B, although engineers were still checking various shuttle and launch pad systems after a lightning strike Friday.
"We did have a lightning strike to our pad lightning protection system yesterday," Spaulding said. "We have been performing a number of evaluations and walkdowns. Those evaluations are ongoing and engineers are still evaluating whether there's any additional work that will be required. So far, it looks favorable."
In the Caribbean, meanwhile, tropical storm Ernesto continues to develop and the National Hurricane Center predicts it will be a full-fledged hurricaine by Monday morning. The storm's track currently takes it into the central Gulf of Mexico, but it's too soon to say what impact, if any, it might have on shuttle operations in Florida or Texas.
NASA managers will review the weather outlook and the shuttle's launch processing during a L-minus one-day meeting starting at 1 p.m.
"In summary, Atlantis, her crew and payload have been waiting nearly four years for this opportunity to fly," Spaulding said. "I'm pleased to announce the vehicle, the launch team and hopefully the weather are ready for tomorrow's launch."
Here is the remainder of the STS-115 countdown. Note that all events up to and including the start of the final hold at the T-minus nine-minute mark are targeted to the opening of the shuttle's 10-minute launch window, typically five minutes earlier than the planned launch time. For countdown calculations, NASA rounds the window open time down to the nearest minute. The release of the final T-minus nine-minute hold, however, is targeted to the actual in-plane launch time, roughly the moment when Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the international space station's orbit. All times in EDT.
EDT EVENT __________________________________________________ SATURDAY 10:00:00 AM Begin 13-hour 34-minute hold 12:20:00 PM JSC flight control team on station 01:30:00 PM Communications system activation 02:00:00 PM Crew module voice checks 03:10:00 PM Flight crew equipment late stow 07:00:00 PM Rotating service structure moved to park position 09:00:00 PM Ascent switch list 11:34:00 PM Resume countdown 11:34:00 PM Terminate pad tours 11:49:00 PM APU bite test 11:54:00 PM Pad clear of non-essential personnel SUNDAY 12:44:00 AM Fuel cell activation 01:34:00 AM MCC-Houston in launch comm configuration 02:04:00 AM Booster joint heater activation 02:34:00 AM Final fueling preps; launch area clear 04:34:00 AM Begin 2-hour built-in hold (T-minus 6 hours) 05:24:00 AM Mission management team tanking meeting 06:04:00 AM External tank ready for fueling 06:34:00 AM Resume countdown (T-minus 6 hours) 06:34:00 AM LO2, LH2 transfer line chilldown 06:44:00 AM Main propulsion system chill down 06:44:00 AM LH2 slow fill 07:04:00 AM LO2 slow fill 07:24:00 AM LO2 fast fill 07:34:00 AM LH2 fast fill 08:49:00 AM LH2 topping 09:29:00 AM LH2 replenish 09:34:00 AM LO2 replenish; fueling complete 09:34:00 AM Begin 3-hour built-in hold (T-minus 3 hours) 09:34:00 AM Closeout crew to white room 09:34:00 AM External tank in stable replenish mode 09:49:00 AM Astronaut support personnel comm checks 10:19:00 AM Pre-ingress switch reconfig 10:30:00 AM NASA television coverage begins 10:55:00 AM Astronaut breakfast photo op 12:00:00 PM Crew weather briefing 12:10:00 PM Astronauts don pressure suits 12:34:00 PM Resume countdown (T-minus 3 hours) 12:40:00 PM Crew departs O&C building 01:10:00 PM Crew ingress 01:59:00 PM Astronaut comm checks 02:24:00 PM Hatch closure 02:59:00 PM White room closeout 03:14:00 PM Begin 10-minute built-in hold (T-minus 20m) 03:16:00 PM NASA test director countdown briefing 03:24:00 PM Resume countdown (T-minus 20m) 03:25:00 PM Backup flight computer to OPS 1 03:29:00 PM KSC area clear to launch 03:35:00 PM Begin final built-in hold (T-minus 9m) 03:45:57 PM NTD launch status verification 04:20:57 PM Resume countdown (T-minus 9m) 04:22:27 PM Orbiter access arm retraction 04:24:00 PM Launch window opens (actual: 4:24:57 p.m.) 04:24:57 PM Hydraulic power system (APU) start 04:25:02 PM Terminate liquid oxygen replenish 04:25:57 PM Purge sequence 4 hydraulic test 04:25:57 PM Inertial measurement units to inertial 04:26:02 PM Aerosurface profile 04:26:27 PM Main engine steering test 04:27:02 PM Liquid oxygen tank pressurization 04:27:22 PM Fuel cells to internal reactants 04:27:27 PM Clear caution-and-warning memory 04:27:57 PM Crew closes visors 04:28:00 PM Liquid hydrogen tank pressurization 04:29:07 PM Booster joint heater deactivation 04:29:26 PM Shuttle computers take control of countdown 04:29:36 PM Booster steering test 04:29:50 PM Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds) 04:29:57 PM Booster ignition and liftoff
The official crew patch for the STS-115 mission of space shuttle Atlantis to resume orbital construction of the International Space Station.
Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide