Sunday, February 07, 2010

STS-130 Launch Coverage

Follow space shuttle Endeavour's exciting countdown to launch as Steve Siceloff blogs from inside Firing Room 3 at the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Continuous coverage of the launch begins at 11 p.m. Sunday for a launch attempt at 4:14 a.m. Monday from Kennedy.

George Zamka leads the six-person crew on the mission to add the Tranquility module and a new "window on the world" to the International Space Station. Tranquility is the first new pressurized module to be carried to the orbiting laboratory since STS-124 took the pressurized section of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" to the station in June 2008. But station residents couldn't be blamed for looking forward most of all to the cupola Endeavour will carry into space. Once at its place on the station, the cupola will afford station crew members a place to comfortably sit among seven windows and watch the Earth spin below them. And they won't even have to wear a spacesuit.

NOTE: All times are posted in Eastern. Timestamps may appear in your local time.

  • Weather Briefing for Crew

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 10:14:33 AM GMT+0530

    The commander, pilot and flight engineer for Endeavour are getting a detailed look at the expected weather conditions as the countdown moves toward a scheduled liftoff at 4:14 a.m. There aren't any surprises, but the forecasters' attention remains focused on the chances of a low blanket of clouds at launch time. Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters is keeping the odds of successful conditions at 60 percent. The launch weather is currently "green" or "go."

    The briefing for Zamka's crew will also detail expectations for what are known as the "TAL sites," which is short for transoceanic abort landing sites. There are three landing fields in France and Spain that NASA can choose from in the unlikely event Endeavour experiences an emergency during launch that calls for the shuttle to touch down on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Tonight's Shuttle Crew

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 10:03:42 AM GMT+0530

    Veteran astronaut George Zamka leads the six-member crew of Endeavour on this 13-day flight to the International Space Station. He flew previously on STS-120 in 2007. Terry Virts, the mission's lone rookie, is flying as pilot. The mission specialists are Kathryn Hire, Stephen Robinson, Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick.

    Their focus during the mission is to attach the Tranquility node and cupola to the International Space Station. The crew will work together with the crew members living on the station throughout Endeavour's time at the orbiting laboratory. We'll hit on some of the details about both Tranquility and the cupola as the countdown unfolds.
  • Launch Control, Flight Control Teams at the Ready

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 09:57:00 AM GMT+0530

    Two groups of controllers are at their stations tonight to launch Endeavour on STS-130. Here at Kennedy, launch controllers work out of firing rooms at the Launch Control Center about three miles from Launch Pad 39A. They handle the shuttle countdown, make sure Endeavour is fueled and get the astronauts on board the spacecraft smoothly. There are about 200 controllers in the firing rooms for a launch, each responsible for a system or subsystem. The launch director, Mike Leinbach, is at the top of the food chain for the launch team.

    In Houston, a separate team of about 20 flight controllers have converged at the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center. They mainly play a supporting role until liftoff. The flight control team has responsibility for the mission once the shuttle clears the launch tower. Both teams are in constant contact with each other throughout the run up to launch. The flight director oversees the mission once the shuttle leaves the launch pad.

    NASA's control center for the International Space Station also is based at Johnson. It takes about a dozen controllers to oversee the station's operations around-the-clock.
  • Ready for Some Football Facts?

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 09:44:29 AM GMT+0530

    In case you didn’t know, the Super Bowl was played Sunday. Won’t spoil the outcome for you (yet), but we can tell you the coin that was flipped by former running back Emmitt Smith at the start of the game went down to Miami after a ride in orbit. The crew of STS-129 took the commemorative item with them to the International Space Station and turned it over to the NFL afterward.

    But wait, there’s more: This year’s Super Bowl ended less than 12 hours before Endeavour is scheduled to lift off. If Endeavour goes today, it will be the first time a shuttle has launched so close to what is an unofficial American holiday, Super Bowl Sunday. NASA has come close before to launching on Super Bowl Sunday, with the closest attempts coming within four days of pro football’s championship game.
    And lastly, the crew of STS-130 did not watch the game before suiting up for launch. The telecast was beamed up to the crew of the space station, though.
  • Tank Fueling Numbers

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 09:41:53 AM GMT+0530

    A quick for-the-record: Endeavour's external fuel tank was loaded with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen beginning at 6:50 p.m. this evening and concluded at 9:54 p.m. The propellants power Endeavour's three main engines during the 8 1/2-minute climb into orbit.
  • Specialists Working at Launch Pad

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 09:37:23 AM GMT+0530

    Two separate teams of technicians and engineers are working at Launch Pad 39A tonight to get everything set up for liftoff. The closeout crew, recognizable by their white coveralls, are inside the White Room where the metal bridge from the fixed service structure meets the hatch on the side of Endeavour. The closeout crew will help the astronauts into the spaceship and get them strapped in. Then the tech will close the hatch and make sure everything is secured before they leave the pad.

    Another team called the Final Inspection Team, but perhaps better known as the "Ice Team," has been carefully surveying the outside of Endeavour since the tank was fueled with more than half-a-million gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The chemicals are cold enough that ice can form on the outside of the tank during the countdown. So the inspection team is looking for dangerous chunks of ice that could break off during launch. The Final Inspection Team wears orange coveralls and carries a host of specialized equipment including infrared scanners. They also use simple technologies including binoculars.

    While the closeout crew works in the tight spaces of the White Room, the Final Inspection Team moves all over the launch pad structure to get the best look at areas of the shuttle as it stands poised for space.
  • Good Evening from Kennedy’s Launch Control Center!

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 09:30:13 AM GMT+0530

    There is no shortage of activity at Launch pad 39A tonight as NASA’s elite launch teams rev up for the second attempt to launch space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-130 mission. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:14 a.m.
    We at NASA’s Launch Blog will bring all the milestones to you as they happen and give you a few bits of background and context along the way. But first things first, and the first thing tonight is the weather.

    At the moment, the launch site conditions are “green,” or “go,” and would allow a shuttle launch. But earlier this evening, low clouds have occasionally dipped in past limits, prompting “red” or “no-go” conditions. Officials here expect the conditions to go through red and green cycles throughout the countdown. The Sunday morning try experienced the same conditions and was scrubbed when the low clouds refused to budge as the liftoff time approached. The launch team is hoping for better luck this time.

    While they worry about the weather though, Endeavour is not giving them any reason to worry about the spacecraft. There are no technical issues and the previous countdown attempt also saw no technical issues crop up. So the crew and controllers are content that the shuttle is ready for this first mission of 2010.
  • Launch Teams Ready Endeavour for Monday A.M. Try

    Mon, 08 Feb 2010 08:20:49 AM GMT+0530

    The stage is being set for Endeavour's second launch attempt in as many days for the STS-130 mission. NASA's Launch Blog kicks off continuous coverage from here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 11 p.m. and will follow the countdown milestones throughout the following hours. Endeavour is scheduled to lift off at 4:14 a.m. Low clouds at the launch site remain the primary concern for weather watchers, and the chances of acceptable conditions at launch time are put at 60 percent. It was low clouds that scrubbed Sunday morning's try.
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