STS-117 Launch Coverage

    NASA's Launch Blog was activated: June 8, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. EDT
    NASA's Launch Blog was deactivated: June 8, 2007 at 7:49 p.m. EDT
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    Thank you for joining us for the exciting coverage of the launch of Atlantis on mission STS-117 to prepare the International Space Station for expansion. For the latest updates on this and future missions, visit NASA's Space Shuttle Web site. + Space Shuttle site

    Main engine cutoff and jettison of the external tank! Atlantis has reached orbit and Commander Rick Sturckow has confirmed a good separation.

    7:41 p.m. - Atlantis' solid rocket boosters have separated and fallen away from the orbiter.

    7:38:04 p.m. - 3…2…1…and Liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis, to assemble the framework for the science laboratories of tomorrow!

    7:29 p.m. - The countdown is at T-9 minutes and counting. As the count resumes, the GLS will be in control of all critical space shuttle launch operations and there are several milestones before launch at 7:38. They include:

    At T-16 seconds, the launch pad's water sound suppression system begins flooding the mobile launcher platform with 300,000 gallons of water. The system protects the shuttle and its payload from any damage caused by energy generated during launch.

    At T-10 seconds, flares ignite under Atlantis' three main engines to burn away any residual hydrogen that may have collected near the main engine nozzles.

    At T-6.6 seconds, the main engines will begin firing in anticipation of liftoff.

    7:28 p.m. - The orbiter's "black boxes" are now in the recording mode and will continue to collect data about the performance of the shuttle systems during the flight.

    7:24 p.m. - Launch Director Mike Leinbach is performing the poll to determine a "go/no-go" for launch. The team is a go! He wished the Atlantis crew members good luck and Godspeed.

    7:14 p.m. - The countdown clock is holding at T-9 minutes. The final prelaunch polls soon will be taking place.

    The International Space Station will add several components while Clayton Anderson is aboard. He will use the station's robot arm to make room for a new node, Harmony, and to move the P6 tower of solar arrays from the top of the station to the far end of the main truss.

    7:03 p.m. - Istres, France, has been declared go as an emergency landing site -- the fog issue has cleared. That means NASA remains on schedule for an on-time launch at 7:38.

    6:54 p.m. - The Closeout Crew has left the launch pad. Along with emergency crews they will remain available until after liftoff.

    6:50 p.m. - Weather at the Florida launch site remains go, but showers and winds at the shuttle's two abort sites in France and Spain made those emergency landing sites unacceptable.

    6:49 p.m. - The weather at the TAL sites has deteriorated and Mission Managers are working a solution.

    6:43 p.m. - The countdown has entered a 40-minute hold at the T-9 minute point.

    6:37 p.m. - The Closeout Crew has been given the go-ahead to leave the pad but will be available to return if there's a launch scrub.

    6:33 p.m. - The countdown has resumed at 20 minutes and counting. There are no technical issues and the weather forecast remains go for launch at 7:38 p.m.

    6:31 p.m. - Commander Rick Sturckow, also known as C.J., and Mission Specialist Forrester flew on STS-105 in August,2001 on the 11th mission to the International Space Station.

    6:22 p.m. - T-20 minutes and holding. This hold is planned and will last 10 minutes. There are no technical issues or weather concerns.

    6:16 p.m. - Preferred launch time is set at 7:38:04 p.m. That time would put Atlantis on the preferred "sweet spot" to reach the space station with as little fuel as possible.

    6:11 p.m. - The primary overseas landing site is Istres, France, with Zaragoza Air Base in Spain serving as a backup site.

    There are more than 2,020 separate displays and controls on the space shuttle's flight deck. Four astronauts sit on the flight deck during launch: the commander, pilot and two mission specialists who serve as flight engineers. The rest of the crew, all mission specialists, sit on the middeck, or lower level of the orbiter's crew compartment for launch and landing.

    5:53 p.m. - Astronauts Steve Lindsey and Mark Polansky have taken off in the Shuttle Training Aircraft to monitor the weather conditions for the launch.

    5:49 p.m. - The Closeout Crew has reported that the crew module is now closed, latched and pressurized. Cabin leak checks are currently underway.

    5:44 p.m. - The overseas landing sites have reported that the weather is green.

    5:38 p.m. - The "go" was given by Launch Control for the Closeout Crew to close and seal the orbiter's hatch. Once sealed, the crew leader will ensure that the hatch is properly pressurized for flight.

    5:30 p.m. - The Atlantis crew members continue to perform their preflight checklists.

    5:25 p.m. - STS-117 is the 118th space shuttle flight, the 21st flight to the station and the 28th flight for Atlantis.

    5:15 p.m. - Everything continues to go as planned for tonight's liftoff of Atlantis on a mission to increase the International Space Station's power capability and prepare the station for the arrival of the new modules from the European and Japanese space agencies.

    4:59 p.m. - Air-to-ground voice checks are continuing between Mission Control in Houston and the Atlantis crew at Kennedy to ensure that all communications are working as expected. All of the mission crew members have been seated in the orbiter.

    When Clayton Anderson was added to the STS-117 crew, NASA had to add about 700 pounds of clothing, food and other supplies to Atlantis' cargo. Anderson will take over on the International Space Station for Sunita Williams. Williams will return to Earth aboard Atlantis. She has been on the station since December, 2006.

    4:45 p.m. - Once all the astronauts are secured in their seats, they will spend about three hours on their backs completing the preflight checklists.

    4:41 p.m. - Pilot Lee Archambault is going through his communications checks with launch controllers.

    4:37 p.m. - Mission Specialist Pat Forrester is taking his seat for launch. He will ride on the flight deck.

    4:34 p.m. - Sturckow is performing air-to-ground communication checks with the Launch and Mission Control centers.

    4:31 p.m. - Pilot Lee Archambault has entered Atlantis and is being strapped in on the flight deck next to commander Rick Sturckow. Lee Archambault worked for several years at Kennedy Space Center as a support astronaut. He went through the process of assisting the astronauts into the orbiter many times.

    4:21 p.m. - Pilot Lee Archambault, Mission Specialists John "Danny" Olivas, Steven Swanson and Clayton Anderson will be making their first spaceflight on this mission.

    4:19 p.m. - Mission Specialist James Reilly is getting seated on the middeck, or lower level of the orbiter.

    4:17 p.m. - Shuttle Commander Rick Sturckow is first to be seated. He'll occupy the forward-left seat on the flight deck. There are specific seating arrangements for each launch. There is room for up to four seats on the middeck and another four on the flight deck.

    4:10 p.m. - As each crew member is suited for launch, an orange glow stick is tucked into the shoulder pocket on the upper arm. The glow sticks are intended to give the astronauts a means of identifying one another in the unlikely event of an emergency landing in the dark.

    4:08 p.m. - The STS-117 crew is now at the launch pad. They'll take the elevator in the fixed service structure to the 195-foot level.

    4:06 p.m. - The Closeout Crew is at the pad waiting for the astronauts' arrival to assist them with the rest of their equipment and help them get seated securely inside the orbiter.

    Mission Specialist James Reilly attributes his interest in becoming an astronaut to the moment he was sitting in a dentist's chair at age 8. The dentist was listening to the radio reports of John Glenn's first flight and asked Reilly if he would want to be an astronaut. Reilly, sitting there with his mouth full of dental equipment, said his first thought was, "Anywhere but here."

    4:00 p.m. - Astronaut Steve Lindsey will take to the skies at around 6 p.m. in the Shuttle Training Aircraft to check on the weather during the launch countdown. The aircraft will stay in flight until just before liftoff and send the weather reports to Dom Gorie, who is the weather coordinator for this mission.

    3:51 p.m. - NASA's custom-made "Astrovan" whisked the flight team off to the launch pad. It stopped briefly in front of the Launch Control Center to drop off the STS-117 mission managers.

    3:49 p.m. - As the crew members left the building, they were cheered on by the crowd of well-wishers.

    3:47 pm. - The Atlantis astronauts have left the crew quarters for the elevator that will take them down to the main floor of the Operations and Checkout Building.

    3:45 p.m. - The Final Inspection Team has completed its assessment and is now leaving the pad.

    3:42 p.m. - The countdown has resumed at T-3 hours and counting.

    3:40 p.m. - NASA Test Director Steve Payne announced the end of the 3-hour hold which means the launch countdown will proceed as planned.

    3:34 p.m. - There are 8 minutes and 30 seconds left in the T-3 hour hold.

    A seventh seat and additional orange pressure suit were added to Atlantis for the crew swap between Anderson and Williams. Anderson will sit in the seat on the way up. It will be set on its back for Williams during the return to Earth. That is common practice now for astronauts who have months in the microgravity of space.

    3:24 - p.m. Although there are a few off-shore showers reported, the forecast calls for them to clear out and not be an issue at launch time.

    3:21 - p.m. The Atlantis astronauts are in the final stages of suiting up.

    3:20 p.m. - The Closeout Crew is waiting at the White Room on Launch Pad 39A. The White Room sits on the end of the orbiter access arm catwalk that extends to Atlantis' crew module. They will make the final preparations for the astronaut's arrival at the pad, in about an hour.

    3:10 p.m. - The Atlantis crew members are in the suit-up room of the Operations and Checkout Building. They're being helped into their launch and entry spacesuits by skilled technicians.

    3:05 p.m. - At T-3 hours and holding, there is about 45 minutes left in the built-in hold.

    2:56 p.m. - The crew of STS-117 is expected to enter the suit-up room inside the Operations & Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center shortly.

    2:45 p.m. - At T-3 and holding, the countdown is about halfway through the 3-hour hold.

    2:40 p.m. - Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported that the clouds hovering over Kennedy Space Center are slowly making their way west and the forecast for launch is still "green."

    Atlantis is carrying a metal cargo tag from the Jamestown colony in Virginia. The tag is about 400 years old and bears the words "Yames Towne." It is being taken into space in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's settlement in 1607. After the flight, the tag will be returned to the Jamestown Historical Society to join other artifacts in a museum.

    2:30 p.m. - During the inspection, the Ice Team members take the launch pad's elevator up to the 255-foot level and work their way down. Using binoculars and infrared scanners, the team can get a better look at hard-to-see areas.

    2:20 p.m. - NASA's ships Freedom Star and Liberty Star are stationed about 140 miles in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the solid rocket boosters after they separate from the vehicle and fall back to Earth. The boosters will be refurbished and used for a future shuttle launch.

    2:08 p.m. - The inspection team is looking at a hanging bracket on the mobile launcher platform to decide whether it could become a safety issue for launch.

    2:00 p.m. - The countdown is at T-3 hours and holding. During the halfway mark of the T-3 hour hold, the Eastern Range Holdfire Test begins. This test checks the ability of Range Safety to stop the launch in the event it would be unsafe.

    1:54 p.m. - Current weather conditions are "red," but forecasters expect current clouds to move well inland by launch time.

    Atlantis Commander Rick Sturckow flew in the Marine Corps and attended the vaunted Top Gun school. He also served as a test pilot before entering NASA's astronaut corps.

    1:45 p.m. - In the dining room of the Astronaut Crew Quarters, the STS-117 crew is seated around the dining table for their preflight meal.

    1:41 p.m. - The Ice Team is beginning its walkdown of the launch pad. They are looking for debris or excessive ice buildup on the external tank. Tanking was completed at 12:55 p.m. and took about three hours.

    1:35 p.m. - The Final Inspection Team, also commonly called the "Ice Team," was given the ''all clear" to head to the launch pad to inspect the external tank, pad and shuttle for ice and debris. The team's inspection will take between two and three hours.

    1:32 p.m. - The countdown is in the final six hours and launch is on schedule for 7:38 p.m. for mission STS-117 to the International Space Station.

    1:30 p.m. - Good afternoon and welcome to NASA's Launch Blog. We are at T-3 hours and holding and Space Shuttle Atlantis is poised for liftoff on Launch Pad 39A. The weather is "green" for launch and acceptable at all of the shuttle's Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites, in France and Spain.

    The following events took place before the start of live coverage:
    Tanking of 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen began at 9:55 a.m. with the thermal conditioning of the orbiter's propellant lines. This process prepares the systems for the super-cold propellants that will be pumped into the shuttle's external tank. The launch pad was cleared of all personnel before tanking began.

    Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters gave the latest weather briefing to Launch Director Mike Leinbach. The forecast for today's launch is for only a 20-percent chance that weather could be an issue for launch.

    NASA's ships Freedom Star and Liberty Star are stationed about 140 miles in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the solid rocket boosters after they separate from the vehicle and fall back to Earth. They'll be refurbished and used for a future shuttle launch.

    Other activities under way have been the alignment of the Merritt Island Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network Stations antennas (known as MILA) with the launch pad and the initial communication checks with the Air Force's Eastern Range.

    The STS-117 astronauts received their 10 a.m. "wake-up" call at the crew quarters of the Operations and Checkout Building to begin their preparations for launch.

    At 12:42 p.m., the countdown entered a three-hour built-in hold at the T-3 hour mark.

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