Saturday, November 14, 2009

Live at KSC: Atlantis "Go" for Monday liftoff

LIVE IMAGES: The images above are from live video feeds in the Launch Complex 39 area at Kennedy Space Center, where Atlantis is scheduled to launch Monday. They will automatically refresh to the most up-to-the-minute image every 30 seconds.

NASA mission managers this morning gave a unanimous "go" to continue counting down toward a 2:28 p.m. Monday launch of space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station.

"Atlantis is ready to go, in really great shape," said Mike Moses, shuttle program launch integration manager and chair of the Mission Management Team.

Atlantis and six astronauts are set to haul nearly 30,000 pounds of hardware to station, much of it large spares that will be stowed outside, during an 11-day flight that includes three spacewalks.

A concern about the ability of certain shuttle components to withstand vibrations caused briefly - for less than a second - during main engine ignition has been cleared by ongoing analysis of those noise vibration levels.

But to collect better data, technicians have installed sensors on the steering thruster pod on the rear, left end of Atlantis and tail service mast facing that pod on launch pad 39A.

One issue is being monitored on the space station: the failure of a urine processing system that limits the capability of the U.S. side to process waste.

Moses said the issue shouldn't affect the Atlantis mission, but managers hope the shuttle can fly home a failed distillation assembly and that a new one can be delivered on the next mission, which is targeted for launch in early February.

Around 2 p.m. today, Kennedy Space Center teams will begin loading the shuttle's electricity producing fuel cells with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, a hazardous operation for which the launch pad will be cleared.

The pad's rotating service tower is scheduled to be opened at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and shuttle fuel loading should begin around 5 a.m. Monday.

"We're right on the money," said Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach. "We're not tracking any issues."

The forecast is excellent, with a 90-percent chance of good weather during a 10-minute window that puts the shuttle on a trajectory to rendezvous with the station two days after launch.

The only concern Monday is high seas that could make retrieving two solid rocket boosters more difficult.

"We fully expect we'll be out of here come Monday," Moses said.

The next countdown status briefing is planned at 10 a.m. Sunday.

IMAGE: Photo of Atlantis taken today by Mike Brown, Florida Today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How would we get this distillation assembly back to Earth and then sent up to ISS when done without the space shuttle? It's just another examply why we should keep the shuttles flying