17 Nov Shuttle Atlantis on pick up, delivery and installation mission
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew began an 11-day delivery flight to the International Space Station on Monday with a 2:28 p.m. EST launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle is transporting spare hardware to the outpost and return a station crewmember that spent more than two months in space.
Shortly before launch Commander Charlie Hobaugh said “We appreciate all the effort making this launch attempt possible. We are excited to take this incredible vehicle for a ride to another incredible vehicle, the ISS.”
The launch was spectacular and near flawless as Atlantis fired up for ascent at the cape carrying Commander Charlie Hobaugh, ISS director, joined on Atlantis’ STS-129 mission by Pilot Barry E. Wilmore and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher. Atlantis will return with station resident Nicole Stott, marking the final time the shuttle is expected to rotate station crewmembers. Wilmore, Bresnik and Satcher are first-time space fliers.
The crew kicked off their workweek Monday by commuting at sound barrier breaking speeds across the Florida sky.
Rob Navias, NASA ascent commentator said, “Atlantis now in the proper alignment for its 8 1/2-minute ride to orbit. Four-and-a-half million pounds of hardware and humans taking aim on the international outpost. Thirty seconds into the flight. Atlantis almost 2 miles in altitude, almost 6 miles downrange from the Kennedy Space Center, already traveling 500 miles an hour.”
Charlie Hobaugh/STS-129 Commander said, “Go at throttle up.”
Atlantis is carrying about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. The large equipment can best be transported using the shuttle’s unique capabilities.
Navias commented , “One minute, 30 seconds into the flight, Atlantis 13 miles in altitude, 15 miles downrange, traveling almost 2,000 miles an hour. Three good auxiliary power units, three good fuel cells, three good main engines. One minute, 50 seconds into the flight, 10 seconds away from solid rocket booster separation. Booster officer confirms staging, a good solid rocket booster separation. Guidance now converging, Atlantis steering into the center lane of highway 129, en route to the International Space Station.”
The flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will store the spare parts needed to sustain station operations after shuttle fleet is retired.
Atlantis’ first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27 at 9:43 a.m. This mission is the 129th space shuttle flight, the 31st to the station, the 31st for Atlantis and the fifth in 2009.
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of Atlantis’ mission. NASA Television features live mission events, daily mission status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv