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



Space station spreads its new power wings
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: September 14, 2006;
Updated after status briefing


The first solar wing nears full extension. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
 
The Atlantis astronauts successfully unfurled a second solar array today, giving the international space station a new set of wings stretching some 240 feet from tip to tip and completing the primary goal of the 116th shuttle mission.

While the mission is far from over - a third spacewalk is on tap Friday - getting the new solar arrays attached and deployed marks a critical first step in the resumption of space station assembly after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus.

"We're happy to be here to tell you the truss, the P3/P4 truss is installed, the SARJ joint's checked out, the solar arrays are deployed, we're in outstanding shape," space station Program Manager Mike Suffredini told reporters. "The bottom line is, this flight has gone better than my wildest dreams."

This afternoon, NASA released spectacular video of Atlantis' launch Sept. 9 that was shot by cameras mounted on the ship's twin solid-fuel boosters and in a WB-57 jet aircraft flying at 60,000 feet near the launch pad.

The booster cams showed no obvious problems with the shuttle's external tank insulation and no signs of any heat shield damage. While the WB-57 footage was not as sharp, it provided dramatic views of the shuttle well after booster separation, including ignition of Atlantis' orbital maneuvering system engines for additional boost.

But deployment of the space station's huge new solar arrays was the clear highlight of today's activity in space.

The P3/P4 arrays are needed for the next planned assembly mission in December as NASA works through a complex sequence of flights that must be accomplished in series to build out the lab's main solar array truss and prepare the station for arrival of European and Japanese research modules.

The only real hitch in an otherwise by-the-book mission was a software commanding problem Wednesday that held up test and check out of a drive system needed to rotate the new arrays to keep them face on to the sun as the station circles the globe.

As it turned out, the glitch was actually a safety feature built into higher level supervisory software that controllers had not taken into account. Once they did, checkout of the solar alpha rotary joint, or SARJ, went smoothly and the Atlantis astronauts were cleared to press ahead with array deployment early today.

During extension of an identical set of arrays in 2000, many of the compressed slats in the solar blanket initially stuck together due to the effects of low temperatures and atomic oxygen.

When the stuck panels broke free during deployment, the arrays oscillated more than expected and caused a tension cable to jump from its guide. The system was repaired during a spacewalk and procedures were changed for today's deploy.

Flight controllers first extended each wing a few feet to improve warming and release compression. Then the astronauts deployed the panels, one at a time, first to 49 percent and then, after waiting for more solar warming, out to a full 100 percent. The extension was done in a high-tension mode to help prevent the panels from pulling up at the bottom as the self-assembling masts extended.

The procedure worked as planned and no problems were encountered.

"Good deploy of the 2A array, very similar to the deploy of the 4A array," Atlantis commander Brent Jett called around 8:45 a.m. after the second wing was fully extended.

"Good day for space station," replied astronaut Pam Melroy from mission control in Houston. "We confirm the solar array is also fully deployed on telemetry. Congratulations!"

"We're very happy to get the array out today," Brent said. "There was never any motion on the tension mechanism until it was supposed to move at the very end. There was, however, quite a bit of spring tension and when the (stuck) panels would release, the boxes would move quite a bit, but that was the same on both arrays."

Suffredini was elated with how the deployment played out.

"A lot of folks have spent time talking about a couple of bolts (and) the software feature we rediscovered last night," he said. "But if you told me before this flight these were the only issues we were going to deal with as a program, I would have taken that and run. The only real problem I have is getting everybody to understand when we say these things are hard, really believing us, because the next flight is going to be even more difficult.

"But we're ecstatic today," he said. "The vehicle has performed in an outstanding way, the systems that make up the P3/P4 truss have all performed as advertised and we're well on our way to returning to assembly."

The new arrays, known as P4 because they're part of left-side truss segment No. 4, were wired into the station's electrical system earlier this week during a spacewalk by Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. But the panels will not begin providing power to the station until December, when the next shuttle assembly crew arrives to carry out a major electrical system rewiring.

During that flight, the left wing of the P6 solar array, currently positioned at right angles to P4 at the top of the station, will be retracted, permitting the new panels to rotate as required to track the sun.

The P6 array will be moved next August to a position just outboard of P4, completing the left side of the station's main power beam. Two other arrays will be attached to the right side of the truss in February 2007 and June 2008.

For the Atlantis astronauts, a third spacewalk is on tap Friday, starting at 5:15 a.m., to complete final closeouts of the new hardware and to repair S-band and KU-band antenna systems on the station.

While Tanner and Joe Tanner Stefanyshyn-Piper are outside, Jett and shuttle pilot Chris Ferguson plan to deploy a set of folded radiator panels on the P4 truss to provide cooling for internal electrical components.

The 1,600-pound radiator, made up of seven hinged panels housing two ammonia coolant circuits, will extend 44 feet when fully deployed at right angles to the axis formed by the array wings.

"You just can't imagine a flight being better than this one has been," Suffredini said. "Now, as we go further along, we won't have had as many years training and some of the jobs will be less difficult than what we did with the installation of this truss, some will be the same, some will be more difficult.

"And so I love the first step that we've taken and I think that's great for the team and I think that speaks volumes of the work we have to do. ... If you believe what this flight tells you, we've got a pretty good fix on what it takes. But we know we've got a lot of challenges in front of us. ... We'll be cautious with you and with ourselves to not get too overly optimistic. We're going to keep asking ourselves questions."

See our earlier story for more background details on the arrays.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: FIRST SOLAR WING DEPLOYED HALF-WAY PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SOLAR WING EXTENDED ONE SECTION PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST SOLAR WING EXTENDED ONE SECTION PLAY

VIDEO: POST-EVA 2 STATUS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: PORT 3/PORT 4 TRUSS KEEL PIN REMOVED AND STOWED PLAY
VIDEO: HELMETCAM OF BURBANK REMOVING SARJ RESTRAINT PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS PAUSE FOR PICTURE TIME PLAY
VIDEO: STEVE MACLEAN REPORTS LOST BOLT PLAY
VIDEO: ROTARY JOINT LOCK REMOVED BY SPACEWALKER PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 PLAY
VIDEO: POST-EVA 1 STATUS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: TANNER LOSES BOLT DURING ROTARY JOINT WORK PLAY
VIDEO: PIPER UNFOLDS SOLAR BLANKET BOXES SHORT | FULL
VIDEO: SECOND WING'S STRUCTURE DEPLOYED BY PIPER PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST SOLAR WING'S STRUCTURE DEPLOYED BY TANNER PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 PLAY
VIDEO: TRUSS HANDED FROM SHUTTLE ARM TO STATION ARM PLAY
VIDEO: ARM MANEUVERS TRUSS OVER SHUTTLE WING PLAY
VIDEO: TRUSS SLOWLY LIFTED OUT OF PAYLOAD BAY PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS' ARM GRAPPLES THE TRUSS PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: ATLANTIS WELCOMED ABOARD THE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING REPLAY FROM CAMERA ON SHUTTLE ARM PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS DOCKS TO THE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS' BREATH-TAKING FLIP MANEUVER PLAY
VIDEO: CREW'S CAMCORDER FOOTAGE OF EXTERNAL TANK PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED ANIMATION PREVIEWING TRUSS UNBERTHING PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED ANIMATION PREVIEWING THE DOCKING PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED ANIMATION OF PAYLOAD BAY CONFIGURATION PLAY
MORE: STS-115 VIDEO COVERAGE
SUBSCRIBE NOW

VIDEO: BRIEFING ON TANK'S PERFORMANCE DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: TANK'S ONBOARD CAMERA LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR EXPLAINS INSPECTIONS PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND

VIDEO: LAUNCH OF ATLANTIS! PLAY
VIDEO: SHEDDING FOAM MAY HAVE HIT ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ONBOARD VIEW OF EXTERNAL TANK SEPARATION PLAY
VIDEO: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: STATION CREW TOLD VISITORS EN ROUTE PLAY
VIDEO: HOUSTON RADIOS DEBRIS REPORT TO CREW PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: QUICK-LOOK BRIEFING ON DEBRIS DIAL-UP | BROADBAND

LAUNCH REPLAYS:
VIDEO: BEACH MOUND TRACKER PLAY
VIDEO: CAMERA IN FRONT OF PAD PLAY
VIDEO: BANANA CREEK VIEWING SITE PLAY
VIDEO: VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING ROOF PLAY
VIDEO: PAD 39B SIDE PERIMETER PLAY
VIDEO: PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKER PLAY
VIDEO: PLAYALINDA BEACH ZOOM PLAY
VIDEO: UCS 23 TRACKER PLAY
VIDEO: UCS 11 TRACKER PLAY

VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST 4 STEVE MACLEAN BOARDS ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST 3 HEIDE PIPER BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST 2 DAN BURBANK BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST 1 JOE TANNER BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: PILOT CHRIS FERGUSON BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: COMMANDER BRENT JETT BOARDS PLAY

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS EMERGE FROM CREW QUARTERS PLAY
VIDEO: CREW SUITS UP FOR LAUNCH TO SPACE PLAY
VIDEO: FINAL INSPECTION TEAM CHECKS ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS READY FOR SECOND LAUNCH TRY 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

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 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 available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. 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

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 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.