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NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-115

NASA's launch blog was activated at 5:30 a.m. EDT

NASA's launch blog was deactivated at 11:10 a.m. EDT

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10:54 a.m. - Scrub! We are going into a 24-hour scrub turnaround due to the ECO sensor issues. We will detank and try again tomorrow. Launch Director Mike Leinbach explained the issue to the crew and told them that we will see how the vehicle responds tomorrow, and that we should have a good weather day tomorrow as well. Launch time tomorrow would be 11:14:49 a.m.
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10:47 a.m. - The final load of Atlantis' computers is now complete.

10:45 a.m. - T-9 minutes and holding. This hold will last for approximately 45 minutes.

10:41 a.m. - Now one hour away from launch final preparations are being made to Atlantis' computers.

10:35 a.m. - We are at T-20 minutes and counting. There is only one hold remaining in the count, and that comes at the T-9 minute mark.

10:33 a.m. - The NASA Test Director is giving the T-20 minute briefing. He explains the windows that are available for launch and gives final instructions regarding the rest of the count, including what to do in the event of any holds or scrubs.

Pilot Chris Ferguson has been given the "go" for Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) start. He is flipping the three switches inside Atlantis' cockpit to start each of the three APU.

10:25 a.m. - At T-20 minutes and holding, we've entered the scheduled ten minute built-in hold. Roadblocks have been secured and all non-essential personnel have been cleared.

9:51 a.m. - At T-53 minutes and counting, the Terminal Countdown Range Safety "closed loop test" is underway. This test verifies the paths the destruct signal would travel and that the Shuttle's Range Safety Receiver responds correctly to the commands sent. This is also a health check of the range safety signal. Console operators in the Range Operations Control Center on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. will also get verification that the orbiter has received the signal. Inhibits have been placed in the system to prevent inadvertent firing.

9:45 a.m. - The orbiter hatch is now closed and latched.
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9:38 a.m. - The "go" was given by launch control to close and seal the orbiter's hatch. The closeout crew leader is making final preparations to shut the hatch. Once sealed, the leader will ensure that the hatch is properly pressurized for flight.

The preflight calibration of the inertial measurement units (IMU) will be completed shortly. The IMU system controls the guidance and navigation of the shuttle during ascent and while in orbit. The system tells the orbiter where in space it is in relation to Earth.

9:27 a.m. - At T-16 minutes and counting, closeout of the orbiter is continuing with the crew hatch closure to follow about a half hour later. The weather continues to be favorable for launch time, and storms are not expected to be in the area of the space center until after 2 p.m.

Did You Know?
Atlantis last flew on mission STS-112 in October 2002.

9:22 a.m. - Air-to-ground communication checks are underway between the astronauts and the teams at the Launch and Mission Control centers.

9:05 a.m. - At launch time for Space Shuttle Atlantis, the International Space Station will be 51 degrees S latitude and 156 degrees E longitude over the southwestern Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand.

8:48 a.m. - The final inspection team is now leaving the pad after having completed their work. They will return to the Launch Control Center to give their report to Launch Director Mike Leinbach.

The team has also retrieved a piece of Tyvek thruster cover that came off during yesterday's storms, and they will bring it back from the pad for inspection.

Did You Know?
The new solar arrays that the crew will deploy on the space station will double the station's current ability to generate power from sunlight and add 17.5 tons to its mass.
Interview: Robbie Ashley, STS-115 payload manager
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8:40 a.m. - Pilot Chris Ferguson is performing initial air-to-ground communications checks with Launch Control and Mission Control, while the rest of the crew members are getting settled into the vehicle and making final preparations for flight. Each crew member will perform these communications checks with Launch Control here at Kennedy and Mission Control in Houston.

8:35 a.m. - We are now at two hours nine minutes and counting. The next scheduled hold will be at T-20 minutes and will last for 10 minutes. After that, there will be one final hold at the T-9 minute mark, which will last for about 45 minutes.

8:32 a.m. - Canadian Astronaut and Mission Specialist Steve MacLean is the next crew member to suit up and enter the orbiter.

Mission Specialist and Flight Engineer Dan Burbank, who will be seated next to Steve MacLean, will enter the orbiter last.

8:18 a.m. - Mission Specialist Joe Tanner has climbed aboard Atlantis and is being seated in the middeck. Next up will be Pilot Chris Ferguson followed by Mission Specialist Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

8:12 a.m. - As shuttle commander, Brent Jett will be the first astronaut to board the shuttle. He will have the forward-left seat on the flight deck.

As each crew member is suited for launch, an orange glow stick is tucked into the shoulder pocket on the upper arm. Like the orange suits themselves, the glow sticks are intended to give the astronauts a means of identifying one another in the unlikely event of an emergency landing in darkness.

8:10 a.m. - The STS-115 crew is now at Launch Pad 39B and will take the elevator in the fixed service structure tower to the 195-foot level to begin boarding the shuttle. The astronauts have specific seating designations for each launch. Often the seating assignments are changed for descent. There is room for up to four seats on the middeck and another four on the flight deck.

8:01 a.m. - The closeout crew is at the pad awaiting the arrival of the astronauts. They will help them get into the rest of their equipment in the White Room and then get seated inside the orbiter.

7:54 a.m. - The Ice Team members are now at the mobile launch platform level of the pad as they finish up their inspection. The team uses a portable infrared scanner that gathers temperature measurements on the surface area of Atlantis. Preliminary reports indicate no issues at this time.

7:52 a.m. - Astronauts Kent Rominger and Steve Lindsey will be flying first a T-38, then the Shuttle Training Aircraft, to assess the flying weather during the launch countdown. The weather coordinator for this mission is Dom Gorie.

7:50 a.m. - The crew is on the move. They have departed the crew quarters and entered the elevator to descend to the main floor of the Operations and Checkout Building where they will be walking outside and entering the Astrovan for the trip to Launch Pad 39B.
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Did You Know?
Mission Specialist Joe Tanner has five spacewalks to his credit, and he's scheduled for two more during this mission.

7:45 a.m. - We are at T-3 hours and counting! The countdown has resumed after the built-in hold.

7:42 a.m. - The navigational aids at the Shuttle Landing Facility have been activated.

7:24 a.m. - The two solid rocket booster recovery ships, Freedom Star and Liberty Star, are on station in the Atlantic Ocean about 140 miles northeast of the Kennedy Space Center off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. in their Mission Station Position (MSP). They were deployed on Sept. 5 at noon and arrived at 10:30 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 6.

The booster recovery operation takes about six hours. The boosters will be plugged, and compressed air will be pumped into the interior, which is a procedure known as dewatering. This will change their configuration in the ocean from vertical and bobbing up and down like buoys, to horizontal, resembling logs in the water. This way they can be towed back to Port Canaveral.

After the ships retrieve the boosters, they will return them to the Port on Saturday morning in preparation for shipment by train to Utah to be readied for a future shuttle launch.

7:22 a.m. - Assisting the crew to suit up in their pumpkin-orange launch and entry suits are the astronaut support personnel also known as the "Cape Crusaders." The team is made up of five astronauts. The prime for this mission is Michael (Bueno) Good. Also serving as ASPs for STS-115 are Alan (Dex) Poindexter, Jose Hernandez, Kathryn (Kay) Hire and Barry (Butch) Wilmore. After final adjustments are completed, the flight crew will depart for the Launch Control Center where they will make a quick stop before continuing on to Pad 39B.

7:01 a.m. - The fuel cell that we were concerned with the last few days is functioning normally this morning. The Mission Management Team will be receiving engineering analysis regarding the ECO sensor and whether or not to continue to launch today or to stop, detank and try again tomorrow.
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Did You Know?
The space shuttle's fuel cell system is made up of three cells, which are located under the payload bay liner in the forward portion of the orbiter's midfuselage. Each 255-pound reusable cell is 14 inches high, 15 inches wide and 40 inches long. The three cells operate as independent electrical power sources that generate heat and water as by-products of the power generation. The water is stored and used for the environmental control and life support system.

6:56 a.m. - STS-115 marks the 200th time that we've tanked the space shuttle. These tankings have consumed 60 million gallons of liquid hydrogen delivered to Kennedy by over 6,000 tanker trucks. Also consumed were 36 million gallons of liquid oxygen delivered by 8,600 tanker trucks.

6:51 a.m. - The countdown is at the T-3 hour mark and holding with 53 minutes left in this hold. There is no change in the weather forecast at this time, and the line of showers which we were watching continues to move away from the Cape.

6:48 a.m. - The Ice Team members will descend to the 135-foot level of the launch pad once they complete their inspection at the 215-foot level. After that, they will finish up their inspection on the Mobile Launcher Platform.

6:22 a.m. - The Ice Team is now at the 215-foot level of Launch Pad 39B.

Did You Know?
This mission marks the first time in almost four years that a space station component has been added to the orbiting outpost.
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6:15 a.m. - The Ice Team is continuing its inspection for ice and debris on the orbiter and external tank. Once the team members finish, they'll report their findings to Launch Director Mike Leinbach in Firing Room 4.

6:10 a.m. - The emergency tag crews are at the bunker. All the normal activities are on schedule at this time.

6:05 a.m. - The Ice Team arrived at Pad 39B and is beginning its inspection from the 255-foot level. Team members will continue to inspect the entire shuttle, finishing their survey at the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) level. This inspection usually takes approximately two hours. The Ice Team is composed of seven NASA and contractor members, who carry binoculars and a telescope to get a better look at the hard-to-see areas. The team objective is to assess the integrity of the thermal insulation on the external tank. They also look for ice and frost formations on the tank, measure temperatures on various parts of the vehicle, as well as assess debris concerns on the shuttle and pad that could impact launch or flight safety.

6:04 a.m. - The Orbiter Closeout Crew has arrived at the White Room, connected to the end of the Orbiter Access Arm catwalk that extends to Atlantis' crew module. They will make the final preparations for the astronauts' arrival at the pad about two hours from now.

6:01 a.m. - In the dining room of the Astronaut Crew Quarters, the STS-115 crew is enjoying the traditional preflight cake decorated with the mission insignia. After they finish, the crew will have a brief photo opportunity, suit up for flight and receive the latest weather briefing.

5:56 a.m. - The final inspection and closeout crews were given the all clear to head out through the roadblock to Launch Pad 39B at 5:50 a.m. The inspection team -- also known as the "Ice Team" -- will begin the inspection of the shuttle for ice and debris once they arrive at the pad.

5:46 a.m. - The tanking of the 528,000 gallons of the liquid oxygen and hydrogen is complete. The system has entered stable replenish mode, which keeps the tank topped off throughout the rest of the countdown.

5:40 a.m. - The countdown is currently at T-3 hours and holding with two hours and five minutes left in the hold.

5:32 a.m. - The launch team reports a failed ECO sensor on the hydrogen side of the external tank. At this time they are pressing forward with launch. Mission Management Team members are meeting to decide if they will go forward with launching with three working sensors or if it will be necessary to de-tank and come back tomorrow.

5:30 a.m. - Good morning and welcome to NASA's Launch Blog. We are at T-3 and holding and Atlantis is standing ready at Launch Pad 39B for liftoff later on this morning. From Launch Control Center's Firing Room 4 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Commentator George Diller begins live coverage of the countdown to launch of STS-115, Atlantis' mission to continue the assembly of the International Space Station.
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Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters has given the latest weather briefing to Launch Director Mike Leinbach. Weather has improved for today's launch to only a 30 percent chance that weather could be an issue, primarily due the possibility of showers within 20 nautical miles.

The following events took place prior to the start of our live coverage:

The Mission Management Team had its prefueling meeting at 1:00 a.m. and agreed to go ahead with tanking. Fueling operations began at approximately 2:49 a.m. with the chilldown of the Main Propulsion System. The chilldown prepares the systems for the shock of the approximately 500,000 gallons of super-cold cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants that will be pumped into the external tank. The slight delay in tanking activities was due to the need to replace a faulty gaseous nitrogen purge control valve on the pad.

Launch weather remains at a 30% no go for today with the primary concern being rain within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility. At this time no other issues are being addressed by the launch team.

We entered the T-3 hour built-in hold at 4:45 a.m. and word was received that we are in stable liquid oxygen and hydrogen replenish to keep the tank topped off through the rest of the countdown. This hold will last for three hours -- one hour longer than the usual two hours -- in order to give the final inspection team more time to complete the checks of the shuttle's exterior after fueling.

Activities underway during the past hour have been the inertial measurement preflight calibration, the alignment of the MILA tracking station antennas with the launch pad and the initial communications checks with the Air Force Eastern Range.

The following events took place during final prelaunch activities earlier this week:

On Monday, the cryogenic reactants were loaded aboard Atlantis onboard storage spheres located beneath the payload bay used to generate power during the mission, the access platforms between the middeck and the flight deck were removed, and the orbiter's navigational aids were turned on and tested. Also, the three main engines of Atlantis received a final checkout and were configured for launch including a test of the main engine controllers which are the computer-like devices associated with the main engines.

On Tuesday, the launch pad sound suppression system water tank was loaded with 300,000 gallons of water, the pad cameras were loaded with high speed film and the tail service masts on the mobile launcher platform were closed out for flight. On the space shuttle, the orbiter communications systems were turned on and tested as well as the navigation systems and landing aids including the TACAN, microwave scanning beam landing system, the GPS and star tracker. The guidance system Inertial Measurement Units were also warmed up and checked.

Also on Tuesday, late equipment stowage was done including placing the crew's Flight Data Files on board which include mission related items the astronauts will need as well as their personal effects.

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NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center
 External Tank being jettisoned from orbiter
What a View!
Cameras on Discovery's External Tank transmit images of Earth and the tank's separation from the orbiter.
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