Launch: May 16, 2011
Time: 8:56 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: June 1 @ approx. 2:32 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility
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SRB Case History
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Cdr Mark Kelly
Pilot Greg Johnson
MS 1 Mike Fincke
MS 2 Roberto Vittori
MS 3 Drew Feustel
MS 4 Greg Chamitoff
Mission Status Center
Live coverage of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page. Follow us on Twitter.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2011Close-up photos of heat shield tiles on the shuttle Endeavour's belly taken during final approach to the International Space Station Wednesday revealed several gouges and dings from apparent debris impacts during launch. LeRoy Cain, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, said three "areas of interest" may require an additional focused inspection Saturday to collect more data.
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2112 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)Mission Management Team chairman LeRoy Cain reports that this morning's photography of Endeavour's belly taken during the backflip maneuver shows 7 spots of tile dings. Three of them pose a higher interest level for the analysts, he says.
They are clustered on the starboard-side around the main landing gear and external tank umbilical area of the vehicle, one on the gear door itself and one on the inboard elevon. None appear to be significant.
The inspection data collected on Tuesday have found no regions of interest on the reinforced carbon-carbon wing leading edge panels, Cain added. That portion of the heat shield is in great shape.
The mission operations team has time set aside on Saturday for "focused inspections" to gather additional imagery of any damage site, if officials determine more data is needed. But no decision has been made yet.
1827 GMT (2:27 p.m. EDT)That's gonna wrap up the Flight Day 3 activities for the astronauts. They will be awakened at 10:56 p.m. EDT for their next day in orbit, which will be devoted to installing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer onto the International Space Station.
1805 GMT (2:05 p.m. EDT)Ground commanding to activate the Express Logistics Carrier No. 3 is progressing well, Mission Control reports.
1633 GMT (12:33 p.m. EDT)Down at the Kennedy Space Center, Atlantis is about to go vertical inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. Watch live as the space shuttle is stacked for the final time in history: See Atlantis' Mission Status Center.
1609 GMT (12:09 p.m. EDT)The Express Logistics Carrier No. 3 has been installed on the International Space Station, accomplishing one of the key objectives of space shuttle Endeavour's mission.
This two-sided deck is loaded with spare parts for space station systems that can be called upon in the future. It has a pair of S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure oxygen tank, an extra ammonia coolant reservoir, a new arm for the Dextre robot, a container of assorted electronics and even hosts a military experiment package.
"Well, it has one of the most exciting names in the business, Express Logistics Carrier No. 3, but it's really important for the space station and we have, obviously by its name, we have other Express logistics carriers, and what we're doing is setting up the space station to last until 2020 and perhaps beyond," Endeavour mission specialist Mike Fincke said in a pre-flight interview.
"So in order for a large aerospace complex vehicle like the International Space Station to last a long time without a heavy lift vehicle like the shuttle to deliver spares, because things do break over time, we have all the spare parts of the station already bolted on to the outside of this big frame structure."
This is the final batch of large replacement items that NASA has been stockpiling in orbit before the heavy-lifting shuttles go out of service. Three previous pallets were launched on missions STS-129 and STS-133.
The robotic arms of the shuttle and station worked in tandem to unberth the 14,000-pound ELC from the payload bay and attach it onto the port-side truss this morning.
1559 GMT (11:59 a.m. EDT)Initial capture of ELC 3 is complete. The arm's joints are being limped while second stage capture occurs.
1548 GMT (11:48 a.m. EDT)The ready-to-latch indicators trigger as the astronauts begin to install ELC 3 on the truss.
1533 GMT (11:33 a.m. EDT)The arm is getting ELC 3 lined up with the attachment mechanism on the Port 3 truss.
1518 GMT (11:18 a.m. EDT)Station robot arm operator Greg Chamitoff described the Express Logistics Carrier No. 3 installation in a pre-flight interview:
"The procedure's all robotic and a lot of us on this crew are involved to make this all happen. ... Mike and Roberto, they'll be doing the shuttle robotic work. They'll take it out of the payload bay with the shuttle robotic arm and they'll basically bring it out and put it in a position where we can reach it with the station robotic arm. Box [Greg Johnson] and I will be on the station side and we'll move the space station robotic arm into position to grapple it. Once we grapple it, then they can release it -- it has to be in that order -- and then we'll move into position to install on the truss.
"On the truss we have these mechanisms for attaching external payloads and they basically have guide vanes so you can bring it in. They have targets and camera systems so you could steer it in perfectly. We'll be doing all of that and then there's basically a big claw that once the mechanism for the claw is in operation, the claw grabs a capture bar and then pulls it down and pulls it tight and holds it in place.
"If everything works right it'll be that claw will stay closed and it'll be solidly attached forever at that point. There's also some electrical umbilicals that have to connect to it and another motor mechanism has to move into place and provide power, data, communication to everything that's on the platform.
"Box and I are taking turns. In that case, I'll be flying the robotic arm and he'll be doing the mechanisms on the attachment system, and then the next day we'll do a similar thing for AMS where we'll swap roles."
1510 GMT (11:10 a.m. EDT)Maneuvering of the station's Canadarm 2 with ELC 3 securely anchored on the end has begun.
1506 GMT (11:06 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's arm has moved away, its job now finished for the equipment-laden pallet's delivery.
1457 GMT (10:57 a.m. EDT)Endeavour's arm has released its grasp on the Express Logistics Carrier No. 3 that rode to orbit aboard the space shuttle. The International Space Station's arm has sole possession of the pallet for installation operations at its permanent home on the Port 3 truss.
1443 GMT (10:43 a.m. EDT)The station arm has successfully grappled the opposite side of ELC 3 from the shuttle arm. Both robotic arms are holding the spare parts cargo carrier for the moment. The shuttle's arm will soon release and back away to complete this portion of the high-flying handoff.
1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT)From the robotics workstation inside the Cupola, shuttle Endeavour astronauts Greg Johnson and Greg Chamitoff are moving the space station's arm toward ELC 3 now.
1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)The shuttle arm has maneuvered the carrier into the desired position for the station arm to reach out and grab the structure.
1400 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT)After being plucked out of its moorings, the ELC 3 pallet is being swung out over the port side of Endeavour for upcoming handoff to the station's robot arm.
1335 GMT (9:35 a.m. EDT)The pallet is up and out of the bay now. ELC 3 leaves Endeavour where it's been stowed since March 26 awaiting the shuttle's launch to the space station.
1330 GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT)Operating the shuttle arm are astronauts Mike Fincke and Roberto Vittori. They will get ELC 3 out of the bay and positioned in a good handoff location for the space station's arm to come in and take the pallet for the actual installation task. Endeavour's arm doesn't have the reach to do the whole job by itself.
1327 GMT (9:27 a.m. EDT)The space shuttle's robot arm is in motion to hoist the carrier from Endeavour.
1320 GMT (9:20 a.m. EDT)All of the payload retention latch assemblies (PRLAs) are open, Mike Fincke reports from Endeavour's flight deck.
1315 GMT (9:15 a.m. EDT)The latches holding the pallet in the shuttle's payload bay are opening to free the structure for traveling on the end of Endeavour's arm.
1210 GMT (8:10 a.m. EDT)The six shuttle astronauts are being welcomed aboard the outpost by the six-person International Space Station resident crew right now.
Expedition 27 includes commander Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and Ron Garan, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrey Borisenko.
1140 GMT (7:40 a.m. EDT)HATCHES OPEN. The hatchway between Endeavour and the space station was opened at 7:38 a.m. EDT, well ahead of schedule.
1110 GMT (7:10 a.m. EDT)The second-half of the astronauts' workday will see the Express Logistics Carrier No. 3 unberthing from shuttle Endeavour's payload bay and the installation onto the International Space Station. Commander Mark Kelly previews what's still to come today:
"We will already have grappled ELC-3 before we rendezvous with the space station, and once we get docked and get the hatches open, one of the first things we do is we're going to pull the ELC-3 out of the payload bay, going to hand it off to the space station robotic arm, and then we're going to install it on the port side of the truss."
Kelly was asked about the level of difficulty the robotics operation will pose: "You know, none of them are really that simple. I mean, it's going to take two people on the space shuttle arm, two crew members on the space station arm, and several hours to do this complicated task of safely pulling it out of Endeavour's bay and then handing it off to the arm and then getting it successfully installed."
1040 GMT (6:40 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is maneuvering the station into the desired orientation with the shuttle flying on the aft end of the complex. This keeps the shuttle's heat shield out of the direction of travel to guard against space debris hits.
1030 GMT (6:30 a.m. EDT)The docking ring has been retracted and the hooks and latches have driven shut to firmly connect the shuttle to the space station for its visit. A series of leak checks between the docking ports will take the better part of the next two hours before the hatch opening and welcoming ceremony can occur.
1021 GMT (6:21 a.m. EDT)Endeavour's docking mechanism is pulling the two craft together.
1016 GMT (6:16 a.m. EDT)The relative motions of the shuttle and station will be allowed to damp out over the next few minutes by the spring-loaded docking system. Later, the hooks and latches will be closed to firmly join the two craft and Discovery's Orbiter Docking System docking ring will be retracted to form a tight seal.
The opening of hatches between the station and shuttle is expected in about two hours. That will be followed by a welcoming ceremony and safety briefing.
1015 GMT (6:15 a.m. EDT)Docking occurred two minutes early at 6:14 a.m. EDT as the spacecraft flew above the South Pacific.
1014 GMT (6:14 a.m. EDT)CONTACT AND CAPTURE! Sailing on her last journey, Endeavour has arrived at the International Space Station to bolster the laboratory's scientific potential and help sustain the outpost's future viability.
Endeavour is delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle physics detector to study the origins of the universe, plus a final external spare parts carrier that the astronauts will robotically transfer from the shuttle to the station's truss backbone later this morning.
1013 GMT (6:13 a.m. EDT)Current distance now five feet.
1012 GMT (6:12 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's thrusters are programmed to fire in a post-contact maneuver to force the two docking ports together. That procedure is being armed.
1012 GMT (6:12 a.m. EDT)Just 10 feet separate the shuttle from the station.
1011 GMT (6:11 a.m. EDT)Now 15 feet from docking, closing at about 0.09 feet per second.
1010 GMT (6:10 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's approach must remain within a cylinder that's three inches and a closure rate of 0.10 feet per second plus or minus .03.
1009 GMT (6:09 a.m. EDT)The final approach covering the last 30 feet is underway.
1008 GMT (6:08 a.m. EDT)The alignment looks good between docking ports on Endeavour and the space station.
1007 GMT (6:07 a.m. EDT)The crew is making a one-degree adjustment in yaw.
1004 GMT (6:04 a.m. EDT)Range now 40 feet, closing at 0.10 feet per second.
1002 GMT (6:02 a.m. EDT)About 61 feet separate the shuttle and station, closing at 0.15 feet per second.
1000 GMT (6:00 a.m. EDT)Now 81 feet from docking, with the shuttle closing at about 0.16 feet per second.
0958 GMT (5:58 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is 95 feet in front of the station complex, closing at 0.17 feet per second.
0956 GMT (5:56 a.m. EDT)Nearing the 100-foot mark as the two spacecraft complete a pass over the nighttime South Pacific.
0954 GMT (5:54 a.m. EDT)Range now 149 feet, closing at 0.21 feet per second.
0951 GMT (5:51 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is being flown manually by commander Mark Kelly. A veteran of three previous shuttle missions to the International Space Station, Kelly initially flew as pilot on the STS-108 logistics servicing to the International Space Station in 2001 and Endeavour's STS-121 test flight in 2006. His first command came in 2008 as Endeavour's skipper on STS-124 that launched the Japanese laboratory module to the space station.
0949 GMT (5:49 a.m. EDT)Now 200 feet, closing at 0.19 feet per second.
0947 GMT (5:47 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is 235 feet away from the docking port and closing at about 0.23 feet per second.
0945 GMT (5:45 a.m. EDT)The spacecraft are flying over Australia.
0943 GMT (5:43 a.m. EDT)The two spacecraft are flying into orbital sunset.
0942 GMT (5:42 a.m. EDT)The astronauts have been given a "go" for docking from Mission Control's shuttle and station flight control teams.
0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. EDT)The docking mechanism in Endeavour's payload bay is being powered up by the astronauts.
0939 GMT (5:39 a.m. EDT)The shuttle has reached a point directly in front of the station along the imaginary line called the velocity vector, or +V bar.
0931 GMT (5:31 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is marking the arc from the point beneath the station to a point in front of the complex to align with the docking port on the Harmony module. Docking is about 45 minutes away.
0928 GMT (5:28 a.m. EDT)The distance between the two spacecraft now measured at 467 feet.
0924 GMT (5:24 a.m. EDT)The pitch maneuver has been completed. Endeavour is back in the orientation where it started, with the payload bay looking up at the station.
0920 GMT (5:20 a.m. EDT)The main engine nozzles of Endeavour are facing the station now as the shuttle points its tail upward.
0918 GMT (5:18 a.m. EDT)The formal photo-taking period has started for the Expedition crew positioned at windows in the Zvezda service module, now that the shuttle has rotated its underside in view of the station complex.
0918 GMT (5:18 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is nose-up facing the station.
0916 GMT (5:16 a.m. EDT)The spacecraft are formation-flying about 600 feet apart as they fly over western Russia, soon to cross Kazakhstan on a southeastern trajectory.
0915 GMT (5:15 a.m. EDT)The rendezvous pitch maneuver -- the 360-degree flip -- is beginning. The shuttle is the under the control of commander Mark Kelly, who is flying the ship from the aft flight deck.
As the shuttle's underside rotates into view, the station's crew will photograph Endeavour's belly with handheld digital cameras equipped with 400- and 800-millimeter lenses as part of post-launch inspections of the heat shield.
The 800mm images should provide one-inch resolution for examination of landing gear door and external tank umbilical door seals. The 400mm will yield three-inch resolution.
After completing the RPM maneuver, Endeavour will fly directly ahead of the space station with the shuttle's nose facing deep space and its cargo bay pointed at the lab complex. Then commander Kelly will guide the spacecraft to a docking with a pressurized mating adapter attached to the Harmony connecting module.
0914 GMT (5:14 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is 640 feet directly beneath the space station as the duo fly over Europe.
0912 GMT (5:12 a.m. EDT)The orbiter is 700 feet beneath the station now.
0910 GMT (5:10 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's closure rate has slowed in preparation for commander Mark Kelly to park Endeavour directly below the space station for the upcoming backflip.
0907 GMT (5:07 a.m. EDT)Station astronauts are getting ready for their job to photograph Endeavour's heat shield during the backflip about five minutes from now. Italian Paolo Nespoli will use the 800mm lens and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman will shoot 400mm pictures.
0901 GMT (5:01 a.m. EDT)Mission Control has given the shuttle crew a "go" for the backflip maneuver. The 360-degree flip should start in about 15 minutes.
0859 GMT (4:59 a.m. EDT)One final mid-course correction burn just occurred as Endeavour flies toward the station. This was an 8-second firing to change the ship's velocity by 1.3 mph.
0856 GMT (4:56 a.m. EDT)Distance separating the two spacecraft has closed to 2,400 feet.
0850 GMT (4:50 a.m. EDT)The third course correction has been deemed not necessary.
0848 GMT (4:48 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is inside 5,500 feet now, closing at 7.9 feet per second.
0846 GMT (4:46 a.m. EDT)Just about 90 minutes from docking. All continues to go well in today's rendezvous.
0839 GMT (4:39 a.m. EDT)Now 11,100 feet left to go.
0832 GMT (4:32 a.m. EDT)Endeavour has performed another of the available mid-course burns. This was a 5-second burn for a 0.7 mph change in velocity.
0815 GMT (4:15 a.m. EDT)Voice communications have been established on the "big loop" between the shuttle and station crews so the astronauts can talk to each other on one channel.
0810 GMT (4:10 a.m. EDT)The shuttle is 39,000 feet from the station, closing at about 10 miles per hour. The speed will ease over the next hour until Endeavour completely stops beneath the station for the backflip maneuver.
0758 GMT (3:58 a.m. EDT)The shuttle just completed the first of four available mid-course correction burns during this approach to the station.
0738 GMT (3:38 a.m. EDT)With about 9 miles separating Endeavour from the International Space Station, the shuttle has performed the Terminal Initiation burn using the left-hand Orbital Maneuvering System engine. The 10-second firing changed the shuttle's velocity by 5.7 miles per hour, resulting in a new orbit of 214 by 210 miles.
The TI burn puts the shuttle on a trajectory to directly intercept the orbiting station over the next orbit and a half. The burn is the latest in a series of maneuvers performed by Discovery during its two days of chasing the station since launch Monday morning.
Docking is anticipated at 6:16 a.m. EDT.
0729 GMT (3:29 a.m. EDT)Endeavour is about 50,000 feet from the space station.
0726 GMT (3:26 a.m. EDT)CAPCOM Megan McArthur in Mission Control has radioed approval to the shuttle's crew for the Terminal Initiation burn that's scheduled to occur at 3:38 a.m. EDT. Both the shuttle and the station flight control teams report all is in readiness this morning.
0724 GMT (3:24 a.m. EDT)Station video cameras have spotted Endeavour as a bright dot on the approach.
0714 GMT (3:14 a.m. EDT)As Endeavour continues to close in, the station is 12.5 miles away now.
0640 GMT (2:40 a.m. EDT)The crew just performed the NCC burn, a pulsing of the reaction control jets for a 0.6-foot per second velocity change to refine the shuttle's trajectory. Endeavour remains on track for docking at 6:16 a.m. EDT today.
0620 GMT (2:20 a.m. EDT)The shuttle Endeavour closed in on the International Space Station early Wednesday, overtaking the lab complex from the rear to set up a docking at 6:16 a.m. EDT (GMT-4). Commander Mark Kelly and pilot Gregory Johnson plan to begin the terminal phase of a two-day rendezvous procedure with a rocket firing at 3:37 a.m. to begin closing the final 9.2 miles.
Read our morning story.
0608 GMT (2:08 a.m. EDT)A circularization burn, known as NC4, has boosted the low point of Endeavour's orbit on today's trek to the International Space Station. This burn lasted 11 seconds using the left-hand Orbital Maneuvering System engine to change the shuttle's speed by about 5.8 mph to put the shuttle into a 210 by 207 mile orbit. This burn increased the perigee by about 5 miles.
0555 GMT (1:55 a.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. C) can be downloaded here.
0500 GMT (1:00 a.m. EDT)The crew has marched through its early checklist of activities for today. Activities include aligning the orbiter's Inertial Measurement Units in the guidance system, powering up a subset of equipment known as Group B and performing a water dump from the orbiter.
0345 GMT (11:45 p.m. EDT Tues.)The Planning Shift of flight controllers in Houston have handed off to the Orbit 1 Team headed by lead STS-134 shuttle flight director Gary Horlacher and CAPCOM Megan McArthur. This team will be on duty for the first half of the crew's workday and the docking.
0258 GMT (10:58 p.m. EDT Tues.)The wakeup call -- "Drops of Jupiter" by Train -- has been sounded to Endeavour's crew to begin Flight Day 3.
This is docking day for the space shuttle, which will arrive at the International Space Station after a two-day chase since launch. Rendezvous operations will begin in about two hours. The Terminal Initiation burn is scheduled for 3:37 a.m. and the 360-degree backflip maneuver in expected to start at 5:14 a.m. EDT. Endeavour should link up with the space station around 6:16 a.m. EDT.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
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