Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-132
Payload: MRM 1
Launch: May 14, 2010
Time: 2:20 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: May 26 @ approx. 8:30 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

Mission Video Vault

High Definition Video

NASA TV Schedule

Launch Windows

Countdown Timeline

SRB Case History

Main Engine Data

Ascent Timeline

Master Flight Plan

Tribute to Atlantis

Meet the Astronauts

Mission Preview Story

Another for Atlantis?

Tumultuous times

STS-132 Archive

Mission Status Center

By Justin Ray

Welcome to Spaceflight Now's live coverage of space shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page.
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FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2010
Flight controllers in Houston have bid goodnight to commander Ken Ham and crew. After successfully getting into orbit, the astronauts quickly went to work transferring their rocket into a spacecraft by opening the payload bay doors and activating the myriad of systems. They've already completed the first in the series of trajectory maneuvers en route to the space station and began commanding the Rassvet module riding in the cargo bay to bring it to life. The shuttle's robotic arm also got checked out to prepare for tomorrow's standard post-launch heat shield inspections.

The astronauts heading to bed for an eight-hour sleep period. They'll be awakened for Flight Day 2 at 4:20 a.m. EDT.
2243 GMT (6:43 p.m. EDT)
The astronauts are immersed in an initial checkout of space shuttle Atlantis' robotic arm.
2230 GMT (6:30 p.m. EDT)
The shuttle Atlantis blasted off on its 32nd and final planned mission Friday, closing out 25 years of service with a 12-day flight to deliver a Russian docking module and critical spare parts to the International Space Station.

Read our full story.
2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)
Space shuttle Atlantis and crew have completed NC1 engine firing to adjust the orbital path to the International Space Station. The 26-second-long course correction maneuver using both Orbital Maneuvering System engines changed the shuttle's velocity by 41 feet per second.
2020 GMT (4:20 p.m. EDT)
The Ku-band system has been activated. You may remember that the Discovery crew ran into a hardware failure and were unable to use the Ku-band for communications or rendezvous radar on the last mission in April.
2010 GMT (4:10 p.m. EDT)
A gallery of photos of shuttle Atlantis' dazzling launch from Kennedy Space Center can be viewed here.
2006 GMT (4:06 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' antenna for Ku-band high-speed communications has been deployed. Standing by for system activation.
2003 GMT (4:03 p.m. EDT)
The ascent team of flight controllers led by Richard Jones is handing over to the Orbit 2 team and flight director Chris Edelen to oversee the rest of the astronauts' workday.
2001 GMT (4:01 p.m. EDT)
"This is one more fantastic ride for Atlantis. She's doing us proud," commander Ken Ham just told Houston.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)
The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. A) can be downloaded here.
1957 GMT (3:57 p.m. EDT)
Go for on-orbit operations! That's the formal call from Mission Control indicating the shuttle is in good shape following launch and the Atlantis crew can proceed with mission activities.

"Sweet, go for orbit ops!" commander Ken Ham replied.

Both 60-foot-long payload bay doors of shuttle Atlantis have been opened and the radiators deployed.

Over the next few hours, the astronauts will busily begin setting up the onboard computer network and downlinking imagery and data gathered during ascent. The crew will be getting out of their launch and entry spacesuits, stowing away the mission specialists' seats and getting some dinner as well. An eight-hour sleep period begins at 8:20 p.m. EDT.
1952 GMT (3:52 p.m. EDT)
The radiator preparatory steps have been performed and the payload bay doors are being opened.
1936 GMT (3:36 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 76 minutes. CAPCOM astronaut Charlie Hobaugh in Mission Control just told the crew that launch video and imagery continues to be analyzed but there's no concerns noted so far. "Looks like another fantastic ascent by Atlantis."
1932 GMT (3:32 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 72 minutes. Mission Control has voiced a "go" to the crew for payload bay door opening.
1920 GMT (3:20 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 minutes. The crew continues working through its post-launch checklist. The next big milestones will be opening up the payload bay doors and deploying the Ku-band communications antenna.
1901 GMT (3:01 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 41 minutes. The burn has resulted in a 143 by 98 nautical mile orbit, Mission Control reports.
1859 GMT (2:59 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 39 minutes, 40 seconds. The twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines on the tail of Atlantis have been fired successfully to propel the shuttle the rest of the way to orbit.
1857 GMT (2:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 37 minutes. Atlantis in the proper orientation for the upcoming maneuvering burn to raise the orbit toward the International Space Station. This will be a 1-minute, 3-second firing resulting in an orbit of 141 by 98 statute miles.
1852 GMT (2:52 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 32 minutes. Commander Ken Ham and pilot Tony Antonelli are getting Atlantis maneuvered into the proper position for the OMS 2 engine burn to boost the shuttle from its current orbit of 136 by 36 mile nautical miles.
1849 GMT (2:49 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 29 minutes. The two flapper doors on the belly of Atlantis have swung closed to shield the umbilicals that had connected to the external fuel tank.
1840 GMT (2:40 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 20 minutes. The planned OMS 2 burn will begin at T+plus 37 minutes, 30 seconds.
1835 GMT (2:35 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 15 minutes. The three Auxiliary Power Units are being shut down by pilot Tony Antonelli.
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 10 minutes. Atlantis has safely arrived in space for its final planned voyage after a quarter-century of flight. The vehicle's rich history already includes 282 days in space, 4,462 orbits and 115 million miles during 31 flights.
1829 GMT (2:29 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes, 30 seconds. It was a nominal MECO. A quick boost from the Orbital Maneuvering System engines is not required to reach the planned preliminary sub-orbital trajectory.
1829 GMT (2:29 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes, 15 seconds. Still cameras embedded in Atlantis' umbilical well are taking images of the external tank to document its foam.
1828 GMT (2:28 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes, 50 seconds. The emptied external tank has been jettisoned from the belly of space shuttle Atlantis. The tank will fall back into the atmosphere where it will burn up harmlessly.
1828 GMT (2:28 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes, 39 seconds. MECO. Main Engine Cutoff confirmed!
1828 GMT (2:28 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes. Atlantis is 780 miles downrange from the launch pad, traveling at 15,500 mph.
1827 GMT (2:27 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes, 35 seconds. The main engines are beginning to throttle down to ensure the shuttle does not experience forces greater than 3 g's as it continues to accelerate prior to engine shutdown.
1827 GMT (2:27 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes, 25 seconds. Atlantis is 508 miles downrange from the launch pad, traveling at 13,000 mph.
1827 GMT (2:27 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes, 3 seconds. Single engine press. The shuttle can reach orbit on the power from a single main engine should two fail at this point. But all three continue to fire properly.
1826 GMT (2:26 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Overseeing today's climb to orbit from the Mission Control Center is ascent flight director Richard Jones. Seated alongside in Houston in direct radio contact with the crew is CAPCOM astronaut Charlie Hobaugh, commander of Atlantis' most recent mission last year.
1826 GMT (2:26 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes, 10 seconds. "Press to MECO." Atlantis can now achieve a safe orbit on two engines. All three remain in good shape.
1826 GMT (2:26 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes. The shuttle has started rolling to a heads-up position to improve communications with the TDRS satellite network.
1825 GMT (2:25 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Atlantis is 67 miles in altitude, 278 miles downrange from the launch pad, traveling at 7,700 mph.
1825 GMT (2:25 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes, 5 seconds. "Press to ATO". Atlantis can reach an orbit, albeit a low orbit, on two engines should one shut down now. But all three powerplants are still running just fine.
1824 GMT (2:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 40 seconds. Atlantis will be tripling its speed in the next four minutes to reach orbital velocity of nearly 17,500 mph.
1824 GMT (2:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Atlantis is 62 miles in altitude, 180 miles downrange from the launch pad, traveling at 6,000 mph.
1824 GMT (2:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. Negative return. The shuttle has passed the point where Atlantis could turn around and make an emergency landing at Kennedy Space Center in the event of a main engine problem. Landing sites in France and Spain are now available to Atlantis in the unlikely event an abort occurs during the remainder of today's launch.
1823 GMT (2:23 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes, 10 seconds. Atlantis is 47 miles in altitude, 88 miles downrange from the launch pad, traveling at 3,700 mph.
1822 GMT (2:22 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 45 seconds. Commander Ken Ham just received the "Two-engine TAL" call from CAPCOM Charlie Hobaugh in Mission Control. The call means Atlantis can now reach a Transatlantic Abort Landing site if one main engine fails. However, all three engines continue to burn normally.
1822 GMT (2:22 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 35 seconds. The Orbital Maneuvering System engines have been ignited for an additional kick of thrust during Atlantis' climb uphill.
1822 GMT (2:22 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 20 seconds. Guidance is converging as programmed. Atlantis' engine nozzles are swiveling to steer the ship toward a precise point for main engine cutoff about six minutes from now.
1822 GMT (2:22 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 10 seconds. Mission Control confirms a good jettison of the solid rocket boosters has occurred. The spent boosters will parachute into the Atlantic Ocean for retrieval. Atlantis continues its streak toward space on the power generated by the three liquid-fueled main engines.
1821 GMT (2:21 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 90 seconds. The space shuttle now weighs just half of what it did at liftoff. The solid rocket boosters are burning 11,000 pounds of propellant every second. The main engines are guzzling a half-ton of liquid fuel per second from the external tank.
1821 GMT (2:21 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 70 seconds. Atlantis' three main engines have revved back up to their 104 percent power setting. And Mission Control has given the "go at throttle up" call.
1821 GMT (2:21 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 seconds. Atlantis is rocketing toward retirement on this its last scheduled launch.
1820 GMT (2:20 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 40 seconds. Atlantis' three liquid-fueled main engines are throttling down to their 72 percent power setting to ease the strain on the vehicle during passage through the region of maximum aerodynamic stresses.
1820 GMT (2:20 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 20 seconds. The roll maneuver is complete, placing Atlantis heads-down, wings-level on a northeasterly trajectory to intercept the International Space Station on Sunday morning.
1820 GMT (2:20 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 10 seconds. The space shuttle has ascended from the tower and Houston is now controlling the mission of Atlantis.
1820:09 GMT (2:20:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, main engine ignition, 4, 3, 2, 1 and LIFTOFF! Liftoff of shuttle Atlantis with Russia's Rassvet mini module, a new expansion for science and supporting spacecraft at the International Space Station!
1819:38 GMT (2:19:38 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 31 seconds. AUTO SEQUENCE START! The handoff has occurred from the Ground Launch Sequencer to the space shuttle. Atlantis' computers now controlling.

In the next few seconds, the solid rocket booster hydraulic steering system will be started, the orbiter's body flap and speed brake moved to their launch positions, the firing chain armed. Main engine ignition begins at T-minus 6.6 seconds.
1819:09 GMT (2:19:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute. Computers are verifying that the main engines are ready for ignition. Sound suppression water system is armed. The system will activate at T-minus 16 seconds to suppress the sound produced at launch. And the residual hydrogen burn ignitors are armed. They will be fired at T-minus 10 seconds to burn off hydrogen gas from beneath the main engine nozzles.

Shortly, the external tank strut heaters will be turned off; Atlantis will transition to internal power; the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen outboard fill and drain valves will be closed; the payload bay vent doors will be positioned for the launch; and the gaseous oxygen vent arm will be verified fully retracted.
1818:39 GMT (2:18:39 p.m. EDT)
Now 90 seconds from the launch of Atlantis.
1818:09 GMT (2:18:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes. The astronauts are being instructed to close and lock the visors on their launch and entry helmets.

At T-minus 1 minute, 57 seconds the replenishment to the flight load of liquid hydrogen in the external tank will be terminated and tank pressurization will begin.
1817:39 GMT (2:17:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The external tank liquid oxygen vent valve has been closed and pressurization of the LOX tank has started.

Atlantis' power-producing fuel cells are transferring to internal reactants. The units will begin providing all electricity for the mission beginning at T-50 seconds.

And pilot Tony Antonelli has been asked to clear the caution and warning memory system aboard Atlantis. He will verify no unexpected errors in the system.

In the next few seconds, the gaseous oxygen vent hood will be removed from atop the external tank. Verification that the swing arm is fully retracted will be made by the ground launch sequencer at the T-minus 37 second mark.
1817:09 GMT (2:17:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes. Orbiter steering check is now complete and the main engine nozzles are in their start positions.
1816:39 GMT (2:16:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. The main engine nozzles now being moved through a computer controlled test pattern to demonstrate their readiness to support guidance control during launch.
1816:09 GMT (2:16:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes. Activation of the APUs is complete. The three units are up and running normally.

And the final helium purge sequence is underway in the main propulsion system. This procedure readies fuel system valves for engine start. In the next few seconds, the aerosurfaces of Atlantis will be run through a pre-planned mobility test to ensure readiness for launch. This is also a dress rehearsal for flight of the orbiter's hydraulic systems.
1815:09 GMT (2:15:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes. The "go" has been given for for Auxiliary Power Unit start. Pilot Tony Antonelli is now flipping three switches in Atlantis' cockpit to start each of the three APU's. The units, located in the aft compartment of Atlantis, provide the pressure needed to power the hydraulic systems of the shuttle. The units will be used during the launch and landing phases of the mission for such events as moving the orbiter's aerosurfaces, gimbaling the main engine nozzles and deploying the landing gear.

Over the course of the next minute, the orbiter's heaters will be configured for launch by commander Ken Ham, the fuel valve heaters on the main engines will be turned off in preparation for engine ignition at T-6.6 seconds and the external tank and solid rocket booster safe and arm devices will be armed.
1814:39 GMT (2:14:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes, 30 seconds. APU pre-start is complete and the units are ready for activation. The orbiters flight data recorders have gone into the record mode to collect measurements of shuttle systems performance during flight.
1814:09 GMT (2:14:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes. Pilot Tony Antonelli has been asked by the orbiter test conductor to pre-start the orbiter Auxiliary Power Units. This procedure readies the three APU's for their activation after the countdown passes T-minus 5 minutes.
1812:39 GMT (2:12:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 7 minutes, 30 seconds. The Ground Launch Sequencer has started pulling the orbiter access arm away from the crew hatch on the port side of the vehicle. The arm was the passage way for the astronauts to board Atlantis a few hours ago. The arm can be re-extended very quickly should the need arise later in the countdown.
1812:09 GMT (2:12:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. Pilot Tony Antonelli has flipped the switches in the cockpit of Atlantis to directly connect the three onboard fuel cells with the essential power buses. Also, the stored program commands have been issued to the orbiter for antenna alignment and management during launch.
1811:09 GMT (2:11:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting! The Ground Launch Sequencer has been initiated. The computer program is located in a console in the Firing Room of the Complex 39 Launch Control Center. The GLS is the master of events through liftoff. During the last 9 minutes of the countdown, the computer will monitor as many as a thousand different systems and measurements to ensure that they do not fall out of any pre-determine red-line limits. At T-minus 31 seconds, the GLS will hand off to the onboard computers of Atlantis to complete their own automatic sequence of events through the final half minute of the countdown.
1810:09 GMT (2:10:09 p.m. EDT)
Now 10 minutes from blastoff.
1809:09 GMT (2:09:09 p.m. EDT)
The countdown will resume from the T-minus 9 minute mark at 2:11:09 p.m. EDT.
1807 GMT (2:07 p.m. EDT)
NASA launch director Mike Leinbach has conducted his poll and given approval to resume the countdown for liftoff at 2:20 p.m. EDT!
1806 GMT (2:06 p.m. EDT)
The poll by NASA test director Jeremy Graeber confirms there are no technical issues or constraints standing in the way of launch at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The Range also reports "go" on the local weather. And Mission Control says that weather at the abort landing sites is acceptable.
1805 GMT (2:05 p.m. EDT)
Powering space shuttle Atlantis throughout its eight-and-a-half minute climb to orbit will be the three main engines built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The cryogenic powerplants are fed with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen stored in the external fuel tank.

In the engine No. 1 position today is the Block 2-2052 engine now making its ninth launch. It has accumulated 5,124 seconds of total firing time on the previous missions, plus ground testing. STS-99 was its debut flight.

Making its tenth launch is the Block 2-2051 in the engine No. 2 position. It has nine previous flights, starting with STS-96, and some 5,643 seconds of firing time.

And Block 2-2047 is engine No. 3 on Atlantis. This powerplant, flying for the 14th time, has 7,161 seconds of firing from ground tests and the earlier launches starting with STS-91.
1800 GMT (2:00 p.m. EDT)
We're now 20 minutes from Atlantis' launch on an eight-and-a-half minute trek to space. At main engine cutoff, Atlantis will be flying on a suborbital trajectory with a high point of 136 statute miles and low point of 36 statute miles, inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. A half-hour later, the twin orbital maneuvering engines will be fired to place the shuttle into a 141 by 98 statute mile orbit.
1759 GMT (1:59 p.m. EDT)
Engineers have determined there is no structural concern for the ball bearing pin, if that's where the ball bearing found in the payload bay originated. The recommendation is clearing the constraint and proceeding with launch.
1755 GMT (1:55 p.m. EDT)
At launch, the space station will be flying 220 miles over the southern Pacific Ocean. Liftoff at 2:20 p.m. EDT is timed to place Atlantis on course to dock with the station two days from now.
1753 GMT (1:53 p.m. EDT)
The issue under discussion is a 1/8th inch ball bearing found in the payload bay before the doors were closed for flight earlier this week. At the time, it was not believed to be part of flight hardware. But subsequent engineering work shows it could be associated with a ball bearing pin on one of Atlantis' payload bay cameras. The team is talking through the situation and making sure the shuttle can fly as-is at 2:20 p.m. EDT today.
1749 GMT (1:49 p.m. EDT)
Weather has improved to 90 percent favorable here at Kennedy Space Center. The forecast calls for some clouds, an easterly wind of 10 gusting to 15 knots and a temperature of 78 degrees F.

The primary abort landing site overseas will be Zaragoza, Spain, where acceptable weather is reported.
1745 GMT (1:45 p.m. EDT)
The reusable solid rocket boosters, built by ATK, provide the primary thrust to propel the space shuttle away from Earth during the initial two minutes of flight. The 11 sections on each booster flying on Atlantis are a mixture of refurbished and brand new hardware. The upper cylinder on the right-hand booster, for example, flew on the very first shuttle mission in 1981. And the aft dome on the left-hand booster flew with Atlantis on this orbiter's maiden mission in 1985. In all, the twin boosters flying today have reused segments and pieces that trace back to 57 previous shuttle launches and 7 ground test-firings.

Detailed history information about Atlantis' two boosters can be seen in this PDF download here.

The boosters will parachute into the Atlantic Ocean where a pair of retrieval ships are standing by to recover the rockets and tow them back to shore.
1738 GMT (1:38 p.m. EDT)
A technical constraint is being worked by the launch team. It relates a camera ball bearing that's been under discussion for a couple of days. But the issue has been elevated and is now a hurdle for clearing Atlantis to launch today.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)
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1726 GMT (1:26 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes and holding. Countdown clocks have gone into the planned 45-minute, 9-second built-in hold. Launch is targeted for 2:20:09 p.m. EDT.
1722 GMT (1:22 p.m. EDT)
The Main Propulsion System helium system has been reconfigured by pilot Tony Antonelli. Soon the gaseous nitrogen purge to the aft skirts of the solid rocket boosters will be started.
1721 GMT (1:21 p.m. EDT)
Commander Ken Ham has enabled the abort steering instrumentation. And pilot Tony Antonelli has configured the displays inside Atlantis' cockpit for launch.
1720 GMT (1:20 p.m. EDT)
Now one hour away from liftoff.
1719 GMT (1:19 p.m. EDT)
Mission Control in Houston is loading Atlantis' onboard computers with the proper guidance parameters based on the projected launch time.
1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The countdown has resumed after a 10-minute hold. Clocks will tick down for the next 11 minutes to T-minus 9 minutes where the final planned hold is scheduled to occur. The hold length will be adjusted to synch up with today's preferred launch time of 2:20:09 p.m. EDT.

Atlantis' onboard computers are now transitioning to the Major Mode-101 program, the primary ascent software. Also, engineers are dumping the Primary Avionics Software System (PASS) onboard computers. The data that is dumped from each of PASS computers is compared to verify that the proper software is loaded aboard for launch.
1714 GMT (1:14 p.m. EDT)
The official launch window based on the latest radar tracking of the space station's orbit remains unchanged from 2:15:09 to 2:25:10 p.m. EDT.
1712 GMT (1:12 p.m. EDT)
The closeout crew is driving away from the pad.
1705 GMT (1:05 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and holding. The countdown has paused for a 10-minute built-in hold. Launch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EDT.

During this built-in hold, all computer programs in Firing Room 4 of the Complex 39 Launch Control Center will be verified to ensure that the proper programs are available for the countdown; the landing convoy status will be verified and the landing sites will be checked to support an abort landing during launch today; the Inertial Measurement Unit preflight alignment will be verified completed; and preparations are made to transition the orbiter onboard computers to Major Mode 101 upon coming out of the hold. This configures the computer memory to a terminal countdown configuration.
1700 GMT (1:00 p.m. EDT)
The work to seal the shuttle's crew compartment hatch for flight is complete. And the closeout team that assisted the astronauts into Atlantis today has stowed equipment in the White Room before leaving the launch pad now.
1656 GMT (12:56 p.m. EDT)
Commander Ken Ham is pressurizing the gaseous nitrogen system for Atlantis' Orbital Maneuvering System engines and pilot Tony Antonelli activated the gaseous nitrogen supply for the orbiter's Auxiliary Power Units' water spray boilers.
1647 GMT (12:47 p.m. EDT)
The ground pyrotechnic initiator controllers (PICs) are scheduled to be powered up around this time in the countdown. They are used to fire the solid rocket hold-down posts, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tail service mast and external tank vent arm system pyros at liftoff and the space shuttle main engine hydrogen gas burn system prior to engine ignition.

The shuttle's two Master Events Controllers are being tested. They relay the commands from the shuttle's computers to ignite, and then separate the boosters and external tank during launch.
1646 GMT (12:46 p.m. EDT)
Mainline activation of the Ground Launch Sequencer has been completed. This is the master computer program that will run the final nine minutes of the countdown.
1625 GMT (12:25 p.m. EDT)
Current weather conditions at the Kennedy Space Center remain favorable and little worry about a low-cloud ceiling violating the rules at launch time.
1609 GMT (12:09 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis' hatch has been closed and locked.
1603 GMT (12:03 p.m. EDT)
The orbiter closeout team at the launch pad is shutting Atlantis' crew module hatch for flight.
1551 GMT (11:51 a.m. EDT)
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1553 GMT (11:53 a.m. EDT)
The pad crew is ready to close up Atlantis' hatch.
1546 GMT (11:46 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts are completing a series of radio communication checks with ground controllers.
1532 GMT (11:32 a.m. EDT)
The final Atlantis astronaut has boarded the shuttle today. Mike Good -- or simply "Bueno" -- just entered the hatch to sit on the flight deck's aft-center seat as mission specialist No. 2 and flight engineer.

He was among the headliner crew that serviced the Hubble Space Telescope last year. Born in Ohio and a product of Notre Dame, he rose to the rank of colonel in the Air Force before retirement as a weapon systems officer. Heading back to orbit for the second time now, Good will lead the mission's third spacewalk.
1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT)
Three hours and counting until liftoff time. The countdown remains on schedule for launch at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
1518 GMT (11:18 a.m. EDT)
Garrett Reisman, mission specialist No. 1, is ingressing the flight deck's aft-right seat.

They call him "Big G" for this overwhelming 5-foot, 4-inch stature, but Reisman does have tall responsibilities on Atlantis' flight as leader of the first spacewalk to assemble a delicate communications antenna and as the robotic arm operator during installation of the Russian Mini Research Module 1.

The New Jersey native earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology before working on the Aqua environmental satellite at TRW and then joining the astronaut corps. in 1998. He lived aboard the space station for three months in 2008 on the Expedition 16 and 17 missions.
1512 GMT (11:12 a.m. EDT)
Robotic arm operator and mission specialist No. 4 Piers Sellers has boarded to take the left-hand seat on the middeck.

The most experienced member of the Atlantis crew is a veteran of two previous shuttle flights in 2002 and 2005. The United Kingdom-born astronaut is fluent in the Russian language and will be operating the docking mechanism when the Mini Research Module 1 is attached to the space station. The module, also known as Rassvet, is being delivered to the station in the payload bay of Atlantis.
1505 GMT (11:05 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis pilot Dominic "Tony" Antonelli is making his way to the flight deck's front-right seat right now.

He is returning to space for the second time as pilot. Born in Detroit, then raised in Indiana and North Carolina, the self-described NASCAR fan was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served in the Navy where he's now a captain-select. He arrived at NASA in 2000 and flew on the Discovery mission last year that completed construction of the station's power grid.
1459 GMT (10:59 a.m. EDT)
Mission specialist No. 3 Steve Bowen just crawled through the hatch to take the right-hand seat on the middeck.

"Steveo," the only submarine officer to become an astronaut, hails from Massachusetts and has degrees from the Naval Academy and MIT. He visited the space station on the Endeavour mission in late 2008 that saw him conduct three spacewalks.

He'll lead EVA No. 2 on the upcoming trek to replace the 10-year-old batteries on the space station's original power module.
1456 GMT (10:56 a.m. EDT)
Commander Ken Ham is the first astronaut to board the shuttle today, taking the forward-left seat on the flight deck.

The 45-year-old Navy captain with over 5,000 flight hours in more than 40 different aircraft, is known by his nickname "Hock" -- as in ham hock. Born in New Jersey and a Naval Academy graduate, he came to NASA in 1998 and served as pilot on the Discovery mission two years ago that launched the Japanese Kibo laboratory to the space station.
1448 GMT (10:48 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts are taking a few moments to gaze up at their spacecraft from the pad surface before ascending the tower.
1445 GMT (10:45 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis' crew has arrived at launch pad 39A. The AstroVan came to a stop on the pad surface near the Fixed Service Structure tower elevator that will take the six-person crew to the 195-foot level to begin boarding the shuttle.
1440 GMT (10:40 a.m. EDT)
The AstroVan is passing the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building where Atlantis was attached to its external tank and solid rocket boosters and the adjacent Launch Control Center.

The Press Site is located across the street, and reporters went outside to watch the passing convoy. This is a launch day tradition to say farewell and good luck to the astronaut crews.
1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT)
The crew of commander Ken Ham, pilot Tony Antonelli, robotics operator Piers Sellers and spacewalkers Garrett Reisman, Mike Good and Steve Bowen just emerged from their quarters to board the AstroVan for the ride from the Kennedy Space Center Industrial Area to launch pad 39A on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
1429 GMT (10:29 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts are leaving the suitup room and heading down the hallway to board the elevator that will take them down to the AstroVan.
1425 GMT (10:25 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 hours and counting. The countdown clocks are ticking again after the planned two-and-a-half hour built-in hold. Clocks will proceed to T-minus 20 minutes when the next hold is scheduled. A final hold occurs at the T-minus 9 minute mark to synch up with the 2:20:09 p.m. EDT launch time.
1408 GMT (10:08 a.m. EDT)
Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts -- all experienced veterans -- are donning their day-glow orange launch and entry partial pressure spacesuits. After final adjustments and pressure checks, the astronauts will depart the suitup room and take the elevator down to the ground level of the Operations and Checkout Building to board the AstroVan for the trip to launch pad 39A at 10:30 a.m.
1335 GMT (9:35 a.m. EDT)
Our launch webcast anchored by Miles O'Brien, with journalist David Waters and for space station commander Leroy Chiao is streaming live on the right-hand side of our page.
1305 GMT (9:05 a.m. EDT)
The countdown remains on schedule and free of any problems for space shuttle Atlantis. The weather is favorable as well.

Recent activities in the countdown have included calibrations of the orbiter's inertial measurement units, powering up Atlantis' navigation systems, the pre-flight alignment of ground station antennas with the launch pad and communications checks with the Eastern Range.
1250 GMT (8:50 a.m. EDT)
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1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
The Final Inspection Team is out at the launch pad to scan the vehicle for any ice or debris concerns following fueling operations. The team is responsible for checking the shuttle and launch pad one last time prior to liftoff.

The team is comprised of engineers and safety officials from NASA, United Space Alliance and tank-builder Lockheed Martin. At the conclusion of their two-hour tour-of-duty, the team will have walked up and down the entire fixed service structure and mobile launcher platform.

The team is on the lookout for any abnormal ice or frost build-up on the vehicle and integrity of the external tank foam insulation.

The team uses a portable infrared scanner that gathers temperature measurements on the surface area of the shuttle and can spot leaks. The scanner will be used to obtain temperature data on the external tank, solid rocket boosters, space shuttle orbiter, main engines and launch pad structures. The scanner can also spot leaks of the cryogenic propellants, and due to its ability to detect distinct temperature differences, can spot any dangerous hydrogen fuel that is burning. The team member also is responsible for photo documentation.

The team wears the highly visible day-glow orange coveralls that are anti-static and flame resistant. Each member also has a self-contained emergency breathing unit that holds about 10 minutes of air.
1210 GMT (8:10 a.m. EDT)
Here is a timeline of major events through the remainder of today's countdown

08:10 AM......Astronaut support personnel comm checks
08:40 AM......Pre-ingress switch reconfig
09:00 AM......NASA TV launch coverage begins
09:55 AM......Final crew weather briefing
10:00 AM......Crew suit up begins
10:25 AM......Resume countdown (T-minus 3 hours)

10:30 AM......Crew departs O&C building
11:00 AM......Crew ingress
11:50 AM......Astronaut comm checks
12:15 PM......Hatch closure
12:45 PM......White room closeout

01:05 PM......Begin 10-minute built-in hold (T-minus 20m)
01:15 PM......NASA test director countdown briefing
01:15 PM......Resume countdown (T-minus 20m)

01:16 PM......Backup flight computer to OPS 1
01:20 PM......KSC area clear to launch

01:26 PM......Begin final built-in hold (T-minus 9m)
01:56:09 PM...NTD launch status verification
02:11:09 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 9m)

02:15:09 PM...Orbiter access arm retraction
02:15:09 PM...Launch window opens
02:15:09 PM...Hydraulic power system (APU) start
02:15:14 PM...Terminate LO2 replenish
02:16:09 PM...Purge sequence 4 hydraulic test
02:16:09 PM...IMUs to inertial
02:16:14 PM...Aerosurface profile
02:16:39 PM...Main engine steering test
02:17:14 PM...Liquid oxygen tank pressurization
02:17:34 PM...Fuel cells to internal reactants
02:17:39 PM...Clear caution-and-warning memory
02:18:09 PM...Crew closes visors
02:18:12 PM...Hydrogen tank pressurization
02:19:19 PM...Booster joint heater deactivation
02:19:38 PM...Shuttle computers take control of countdown
02:19:48 PM...Booster steering test
02:20:02 PM...Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds)

02:20:09 PM...Booster ignition (LAUNCH)

02:28:32 PM...Main engine cutoff
02:57:00 PM...OMS-2 orbit circularization rocket firing
03:15:00 PM...Post-launch news conference
03:45:00 PM...Payload bay door opening
05:54:00 PM...NC-1 rendezvous rocket firing
06:20:00 PM...Robot arm powerup and checkout
07:00:00 PM...External tank photography downlink
08:20:00 PM...Crew sleep begins
1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT)
With the hazardous tanking operation now completed, the Orbiter Closeout Crew and Final Inspection Team have arrived at the pad to perform their jobs. The closeout crew will ready Atlantis' crew module for the astronauts' ingress in a couple of hours; and the inspection team will give the entire vehicle a check for any ice formation following fueling.
1203 GMT (8:03 a.m. EDT)
TANK FULL. Liquid oxygen has entered stable replenishment mode, officially completing today's three-hour external tank filling process.

For those of you keeping score at home, fueling began at 4:55 a.m. and concluded at 7:56 a.m. EDT.
1155 GMT (7:55 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 hours and holding. Clocks have entered a planned two-hour, 30-minute built-in hold. Additional pauses are scheduled at the T-minus 20 and T-minus 9 minute marks, setting up the countdown for launch at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
1135 GMT (7:35 a.m. EDT)
Liquid hydrogen loading has been completed. After reaching the 98 percent level, the topping sequence was performed. And now the stable replenishment mode has been activated to keep the tank full through the rest of the countdown, replacing the supercold propellant that naturally boils away.
1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT)
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1103 GMT (7:03 a.m. EDT)
No leakage is being seen around the ground umbilical carrier plate on the backside of shuttle Atlantis' external tank as the liquid hydrogen system is topped off.
1055 GMT (6:55 a.m. EDT)
There are two tanks inside the shuttle's external fuel tank. The liquid oxygen tank occupies the top third of the bullet-shaped tank. It will be filled with 143,000 gallons of liquid oxygen chilled to minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit. The liquid hydrogen tank is contained in the bottom two-thirds of the external tank. It holds 385,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen chilled to minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit.
1025 GMT (6:25 a.m. EDT)
All is going well 90 minutes into the fueling operations for space shuttle Atlantis.

The cryogenics flow from storage spheres at the pad, through feed lines to the mobile launcher platform, into Atlantis' aft compartment and finally into the external fuel tank.
1003 GMT (6:03 a.m. EDT)
Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen loading have switched to the "fast-fill" mode as fueling of space shuttle Atlantis proceeds via remote control at launch pad 39A.
0952 GMT (5:52 a.m. EDT)
Liquid oxygen completed the chilldown thermal conditioning process and the loading began in the slow-fill process.

Meanwhile, the low-level sensors in the liquid hydrogen tank are reading "wet" as they get submerged by the cryogenics.
0915 GMT (5:15 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis' six astronauts spent yesterday visiting with their families and touring the shuttle at the pad. They also received briefings on orbiter preparations, the payload status and the weather forecast from the ascent team of flight controllers in Houston.

They went to sleep at 9 p.m. and were awakened for launch day at 5 a.m. EDT. They'll have breakfast at 5:30 a.m. and then undergo final medical exams at 6 a.m. Suit up begins at 10 a.m. and departure from crew quarters is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in preparation for blastoff at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
0909 GMT (5:09 a.m. EDT)
The liquid hydrogen loading has transitioned from the chilldown thermal conditioning process to the "slow-fill" mode. This fills a small fraction of the tank, then the loading switches to "fast-fill" mode.
0859 GMT (4:59 a.m. EDT)
The fueling sequence started with the chilldown of the liquid oxygen system. The transfer lines on the liquid oxygen side will chilled down, then the main propulsion system conditioning is completed.
0855 GMT (4:55 a.m. EDT)
FUELING UNDERWAY. Today's filling of space shuttle Atlantis' external tank started at 4:55 a.m. EDT. It will take three hours to get the half-million gallons of fuel aboard the shuttle for today's launch.
0855 GMT (4:55 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 hours and counting. The countdown has resumed ticking after a two-hour hold. The next scheduled built-in hold will occur at T-minus 3 hours.
0848 GMT (4:48 a.m. EDT)
The launch team conducts a safety check on the pyrotechnic circuits to ensure they are in a good configuration before fueling starts. That's the final step before the tanking preps can commence.

The testing is then re-performed after the shuttle gets into cryogenic conditions and before the ice inspection team and orbiter closeout crew head to the pad.
0841 GMT (4:41 a.m. EDT)
The Mission Management Team met for the pre-fueling meeting and gave the "go" to load a half-million gallons of supercold rocket fuel into Atlantis' external tank for launch.
0655 GMT (2:55 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 hours and holding. The countdown has gone into the scheduled two-hour built-in hold prior to the start of fueling. The Mission Management Team is scheduled to convene its critical pre-fueling meeting at 4:15 a.m. EDT.
0410 GMT (4:10 a.m. EDT)
Spaceflight Now captured these photos of Atlantis on Thursday.
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010
The official launch window for Friday's shot at getting space shuttle Atlantis into orbit for docking with the International Space Station extends for 10 minutes.

Based on the latest radar tracking of the space station's orbit and subsequent revision from Mission Control, the single-pane window leading to rendezvous on Flight Day 3 will open at 2:15:09 and last until 2:25:10 p.m. EDT.

The targeted liftoff time occurs in the middle of the period at 2:20:09 p.m. EDT. That's the moment when Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the station's orbit.

The space station will be flying over the south Pacific at liftoff time.

If the launch is delayed to Saturday for some reason, a single-pane window and Flight Day 3 docking scenario will be available for the backup liftoff opportunity as well. The window would stretch from 1:49:27 to 1:59:27 p.m. and include an optimum launch time of 1:54:27 p.m. EDT, when the station is over northeast Austria.
2200 GMT (6:00 p.m. EDT)
On the evening before its final planned launch, the space shuttle Atlantis has been uncovered from the cocoon-like service gantry for Friday's liftoff from Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A.

"Every space shuttle flight is an amazing feat. There is a huge number of people that is involved and put a whole lot of hard work and heart and effort into it," said Jeremy Graeber, the NASA test director.

Technicians will spend the next few hours getting ground equipment configured and secured in preparation for tomorrow's fueling with supercold rocket propellant. Inside Atlantis' cockpit, meanwhile, support personnel will verify all of the switches are in the correct positions for ascent.

Clocks will resume counting at 9:55 p.m. EDT after the half-day hold at T-minus 11 hours. The orbiter's fuel cells are activated about an hour later, and the hazard area around the pad gets cleared of all workers overnight.

The next planned hold is T-minus 6 hours beginning at 2:55 a.m. EDT. During this two-hour pause of the clocks, the Mission Management Team convenes its pre-fueling meeting at 4:15 a.m. to review the status of work, the readiness of shuttle systems and the latest weather forecast.

If all goes according to plan, loading of the external tank with propellant will start at 4:55 a.m. EDT. The process should take three hours to complete.

Join us here in the Mission Status Center for live play-by-play updates throughout the countdown. And don't miss our launch webcast anchored by Miles O'Brien that begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT). Miles will be joined by former space station commander Leroy Chiao, journalist David Waters and several special guests!

A reminder that if you will be away from your computer but would like to receive occasional countdown updates, sign up for our Twitter feed to get text messages on your cellphone. U.S. readers can also sign up from their phone by texting "follow spaceflightnow" to 40404. (Standard text messaging charges apply.)
2158 GMT (5:58 p.m. EDT)
The structure is nearing its launch position.
2148 GMT (5:48 p.m. EDT)
After initially moving at a glacial pace, the speed has picked up and the massive gantry is clear of the shuttle now as it continues to back away.
2135 GMT (5:35 p.m. EDT)
Rollback of the rotating service structure to reveal shuttle Atlantis has started at launch pad 39A. You can watch the tower retraction in our live streaming video.
2125 GMT (5:25 p.m. EDT)
The observers are on station, inspections are complete and the pathway that the rotating structure will follow has been cleared of personnel
2030 GMT (4:30 p.m. EDT)
The walkdown inspections at the pad prior to gantry rollback are being completed. The move is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)
The final day of Atlantis' launch countdown is underway at the Kennedy Space Center for Friday's targeted 2:20 p.m. EDT blastoff of the space shuttle.

"We've had a very clean countdown so far and we're currently on schedule and we're not working any issues," said Jeremy Graeber, the NASA test director.

"The hard work and dedication of everyone involved with STS-132 has gotten us to this point and all of our systems are 'go' to proceed the work that remains in launch countdown and we're looking forward to a spectacular launch tomorrow afternoon at 2:20."

Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen reactants for space shuttle Atlantis' electricity-generating fuel cells were successfully loaded into storage spheres beneath payload bay on Wednesday afternoon.

The cryogenics are combined by the three onboard fuel cells to produce power and a byproduct of drinking water during the shuttle's mission. Technicians pumped the reactants into small tanks on the orbiter during a multi-hour operation at pad 39A.

Final tests of the avionics, pneumatics and controllers for the three main engines were completed overnight. Countdown clocks then entered the lengthy T-minus 11 hour planned hold period at 8 a.m. That built-in hold should last 13 hours and 55 minutes.

Today's chores at launch pad 39A are focused on functional checks of the orbiter's star trackers, activating the inertial measurement units, thoroughly testing the communications network, loading the last items into the crew module, filling of the launch pad's sound suppression system water tank and installing film in pad cameras.

The giant gantry-like rotating service structure is scheduled for retraction from around Atlantis at 5:30 p.m. EDT. Fueling of Atlantis' giant external tank begins at 4:55 a.m. EDT tomorrow.

If you will be away from your computer but would like to receive occasional updates, sign up for our Twitter feed to get text message updates sent to your cellphone. U.S. readers can also sign up from their phone by texting "follow spaceflightnow" to 40404. (Standard text messaging charges apply.)

The weather forecast for launch time remains favorable with a 70 percent chance of conditions within allowable limits.

The outlook from Air Force meteorologists: "High pressure continues to dominate Florida and is expected to persist through Sunday. The high pressure ridge at the surface is to the north of our area bringing easterly winds. With the onshore flow, scattered low clouds will occasionally move over the launch area resulting in predominately scattered skies. In the early morning hours tomorrow and Saturday, these clouds could produce a light coastal shower as they pass over; otherwise, conditions will remain dry throughout the day.

"The only concern for launch weather at this time is a chance for enhanced low-level convergence to increase the extent of low clouds over the coast resulting in a low-cloud ceiling during the launch window. Thus, our primary concern for launch is a low-cloud ceiling."

The launch time conditions are expected to include some scattered clouds at 3,000 and 25,000 feet, good visibility, easterly winds at 12 knots gusting to 18 knots and a temperature of 78 degrees.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

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Shuttle Atlantis on launch pad 39A.
Spaceflight Now photo by Justin Ray.