Spaceflight Now



The Mission




Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-115
Launch: Sept. 9, 2006
Time: 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT)
Site: Pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Sept. 21 @ 6:21 a.m. EDT (1021 GMT)
Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC
Earlier Mission Coverage

Mission Status Center

Shuttle Launch Schedule

Master Flight Plan

NASA TV Schedule

Launch Countdown

STS-115 Quick-Look

Launch Windows Chart

Ascent Data Packet

Rendezvous Timeline

Key Personnel List

Shuttle Flight History

Launch/Landing Chart

STS-121 Archive

STS-114 Archive



The Crew




Veteran shuttle commander Brent Jett leads a six-person crew launching aboard Atlantis for the STS-115 mission.

Crew Quick-Look

CDR: Brent Jett

PLT: Chris Ferguson

MS 1: Joe. Tanner

MS 2: Dan Burbank

MS 3: Heide Piper

MS 4: Steve MacLean

Manned Spaceflights

Current Demographics

Projected Demographics

Spacewalk Statistics



Spaceflight Now +



Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers.

Atlantis on the pad
Space shuttle Atlantis is delivered to Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B on August 2 to begin final preparations for blastoff on the STS-115 mission to resume construction of the International Space Station.

 PLAY

Atlantis rollout begins
Just after 1 a.m. local time August 2, the crawler-transporter began the slow move out of the Vehicle Assembly Building carrying space shuttle Atlantis toward the launch pad.

 PLAY

Atlantis on the move
Space shuttle Atlantis is transported to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building where the ship will be mated to the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters for a late-August liftoff.

 PLAY | TIME-LAPSE

Become a subscriber
More video



Rollback options assessed
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 27, 2006

NASA managers plan to meet tonight to make a decision on whether to proceed with an attempt to launch the shuttle Atlantis Tuesday on a space station assembly mission or roll the spacecraft back to the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building because of hurricane Ernesto.

As it now stands, Atlantis has at least a shot at getting off the ground Tuesday at 3:42 p.m. if engineers can resolve lingering questions about the possible effects of a Friday lightning strike on critical booster and self-destruct systems.

The forecast for Tuesday calls for showers in the area and if NASA failed to get Atlantis off, engineers would not have time to get the shuttle back to the VAB before high winds from Ernesto reached the area. As of this writing, 40-knot winds are expected at the Kennedy Space Center by Thursday afternoon.

That's important because NASA safety rules forbid moving a shuttle from the launch pad if sustained winds of 40 knots or greater are expected. At the launch pad, a shuttle is protected somewhat by rain barriers and a lightning protection system. While NASA specifications say a shuttle can endure near hurricane-strength winds at the pad, the ship's external tank is exposed to the elements, as are the spacecraft's twin solid-fuel boosters.

NASA has moved shuttles off the launch pad 15 times in program history, four of them due to threatening tropical storms or hurricanes.

Computer models predicting the path and forward velocity of Ernesto are "drifting a little more to the right (east) now, a little more up central Florida," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's senior spaceflight manager. "So that's a concern to us from a rollback standpoint. We'd like to have the vehicle back to the (Vehicle) Assembly Building before high winds hit the Cape. So that forces us to start taking some actions pretty soon.

"We really have two competing objectives," he said. "One, we want to get the vehicle ready to go fly. The other objective is we want to get the vehicle ready to roll back to the VAB. And they are not compatible. Those are two totally different objectives. And at some point in the sequence you have to give up on either one or the other. That point in time hasn't occurred yet, but it's coming this evening and we're going to have to make a decision."

If the decision is to move Atlantis back to the VAB, engineers would first have to drain on-board oxygen and hydrogen supplies, a hazardous operation that requires workers to leave the launch pad, and then make critical disconnections.

The entire process, from the time the decision was made to Atlantis reaching the VAB, would take about 42 hours, officials said, putting Atlantis back in the VAB by Tuesday evening.

"Probably by about midnight tonight we have to decide one way or the other which way we're going and we can no longer continue to protect both options," Gerstenmaier said. "So we will protect both options as long as we can unless the data changes. If the data changes, we'll delay the decision as long as the data allows us to delay the decision."

But based on Ernesto's current track and the convergence of several computer models, it would appear NASA will not be able to delay a decision much longer.

The goal of Atlantis' mission is to deliver a new set of solar arrays to the international space station. To reach the station, the shuttle must launch into the plane of its orbit during periods when the angle between that plane and the sun doesn't result in lower-than-allowable temperatures. Such temperature problems occur when the so-called beta angle drops below 50 to 60 degrees.

In this case, the launch window also is affected by a self-imposed NASA requirement to launch in daylight for photo documentation of the shuttle's heat shield and external tank. Based on all three constraints, Atlantis' launch window extends through Sept. 13.

The Russians plan to launch a fresh crew to the space station in mid September and to bring the lab's current crew home 11 days later. The Russians do not want to launch past Sept. 18 at the latest to avoid a dead-of-night landing for the returning station crew.

That means Atlantis must launch by Sept. 7 to complete its docked mission and depart before arrival of the Soyuz.

Gerstenmaier said today a preliminary assessment shows Atlantis could be rolled back to the VAB and back out to the pad after Ernesto passes in time to support a launch try by Sept. 7 or 8. But engineers say a more realistic estimate is eight to 10 days between rollout and launch.

If Atlantis misses the September window, NASA would be faced with the prospect of just three lighted launch days between then and the end of the year - Oct. 26-27 and Dec. 23. The next lighted launch window after that opens Feb. 19, and that assumes NASA would launch with a beta angle of less than 50 to 60 degrees.

Asked if NASA might be willing to relax the daylight launch constraint to open up more opportunities, Gerstenmaier said "we really want to keep the daylight launch" to ensure photo documentation of the shuttle's external tank, especially so-called ice-frost ramps that are still considered potentially dangerous.

"We really want to see how the ice-frost ramps perform, we really want to gather this data," he said. "So I think it's a pretty strong requirement. We may kind of nibble around the edges, do we need umbilical camera lighting? Do we need lighting during ascent? Are there other things we can do that might allow us to shave a little bit one way or the other? But I think from where we are really in this flight test mode, this data's pretty important to us and it's going to carry a pretty high priority."

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: OFFICIALS EXPLAIN INITIAL SCRUB PLAY
VIDEO: SEE THE LIGHTNING STRIKE AT PAD B PLAY
VIDEO: ANOTHER VIEW OF LIGHTNING STRIKE PLAY

VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: CREW ARRIVES FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS DIAL-UP | BROADBAND

VIDEO: LAUNCH DATE ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: COMPLETE PREVIEW OF ATLANTIS MISSION PLAY
VIDEO: DETAILS OF THE THREE SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: MEET THE SIX ASTRONAUTS PLAY

VIDEO: CREW LAUNCH PAD PRESS CHAT DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ARRIVES AT LAUNCH PAD 39B PLAY
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING BEGINS PLAY
VIDEO: TRUSS IN PAD'S PAYLOAD ROOM PLAY
VIDEO: PAYLOAD HOISTED INTO THE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: STATION TRUSS PAYLOAD DELIVERED TO PAD PLAY
MORE: STS-115 VIDEO COVERAGE
SUBSCRIBE NOW

STS-115 patch
The official crew patch for the STS-115 mission of space shuttle Atlantis to resume orbital construction of the International Space Station.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

ERROR: Random File Unopenable

ERROR: Random File Unopenable

The random file, as specified in the $random_file perl variable was unopenable.

The file was not found on your file system. This means that it has either not been created or the path you have specified in $trrandom_file is incorrect.
STS-134 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE

STS-133 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE

Expedition 21
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Hubble Patch
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

MISSION INDEX

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.