Monday, May 11, 2009

Live At KSC: NASA Aims For 2:01 PM Launch

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still images from cameras at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A and the Air Force 45th Space Wing's weather channel.

NASA is aiming to gas up shuttle Atlantis this morning for the planned launch this afternoon of seven astronauts on a fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

With Atlantis perched on Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, engineers will send commands around 4:41 a.m. to start flowing more than 500,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's 15-story external tank.

The cryogenic propellants -- which range in temperature from Minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit for liquid oxygen and Minus 423 degrees for liquid hydrogen -- will power the shuttle's three Rocketdyne main engines during a nine-minute climb into orbit.

The fuel-loading operation is expected to take about three hours to complete.

Atlantis and a crew led by veteran mission commander Scott "Scooter" Altman remain scheduled to launch at 2:01 p.m. Meteorologists say there is a 90 percent chance the weather will be acceptable for flight.

You can watch the countdown and launch here in The Flame Trench, and we'll have live coverage from the roof of our blockhouse -- which is located 3.5 miles from the pad (right outside the range safety Impact Limit Line) -- out on our home page ( starting at 8:30 a.m.

We'll webcast NASA TV Commentary beginning at that time and then start up a series of live countdown updates and interviews at 10 a.m.

Here's our live shot line-up for what should be an awesome launch day:

++10 a.m.: Former NASA astronaut Mike Bloomfield, now with shuttle booster manufacturer ATK, will update us on preparations for the Ares I-X launch, which is the first test flight in NASA's bid to return American astronauts to the moon.

The launch is scheduled for no earlier than Aug. 30 from pad 39B, where Endeavour now is poised for launch on a rescue mission should Atlantis sustain critical damage in flight.

++10:30 a.m.: Former NASA astronaut Jon McBride, who now makes appearances at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. We'll talk about the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction and how closely it resembles the real thing.

++11 a.m.: Former NASA astronaut Loren Shriver, now vice president of engineering and integration for United Space Alliance and USA's Chief Technology Officer, will join us. He was commander of the 1990 mission to deploy the Hubble telescope.

From 11:30 to noon we'll breakaway for the debut of a half-hour Florida Today television news program on WBCC-TV, the local public television station located on channel 5 on local cable systems.

++Noon: Matt Ashmore, senior tools engineer with ATK, will join us. We'll talk about some of the 116 tools that have been developed for the telescope servicing crew. We'll also have a live demonstration of some of the tools.

++12:30 p.m.: Mike Dahm, Boeing Lead Test Engineer for STS-125, will join us. Dahm led the team at Kennedy Space Center that tested and prepped all the Hubble hardware that is going up in Atlantis.

1 p.m.: Hubble Project Scientist Mal Niedner of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. We'll talk about what Hubble has meant to astronomy, and what new science is planned with the new and repaired instruments after the mission.

1:30 p.m. NASA Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburge will join us. We'll talk about a supply run she and her STS-131 crewmates will be making to the International Space Station next March.

In the meantime, you can watch "Saving Hubble," a half-hour special we produced for WBCC-TV. It previews the Atlantis flight, the rescue mission that would be flown if Atlantis suffers severe damage, the Hubble Space Telescope and what the observatory has meant to our knowledge of the universe.

Click Here To Watch.

1 comment:

Conor said...

"The three-hour fuel-loading operation is expected to take about three hours to complete"