Spaceflight Now STS-110


Shuttle Atlantis to launch station truss next week
BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: March 26, 2002

NASA managers meeting at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday affirmed plans to launch space shuttle Atlantis on April 4 to deliver a massive truss to the International Space Station. But although the agency isn't announcing the target liftoff time, it has been available publicly for months, can be readily calculated on home computers or figured out with simple subtraction.

Atlantis
Atlantis is set to launch April 4 carrying the S0 truss to International Space Station. Photo: NASA-KSC
 
The 11-day flight of Atlantis marks the first time in the 21-year history of the space shuttle program that NASA will not announce the launch time for a civilian mission. The space agency will only say liftoff will occur sometime between 2 and 6 p.m. EST (1900-2300 GMT), with the precise launch time to be announced officially about 24 hours in advance. The unprecedented step was taken for security reasons, NASA says.

However, Spaceflight Now has been reporting since early January in our worldwide launch schedule that liftoff would occur at 5:14 p.m. EST (2214 GMT).

In addition, anyone with home computer and internet connection can calculate the launch time with relative ease.

NASA officials have frequently explained that shuttles bound for the space station liftoff within 10 minutes of the moment Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the station's orbit. NASA's "preferred" launch time is the precise moment the pad is "in plane" with the station. An article in the March issue of the Smithsonian Institution's Air & Space magazine provides an explanation of this principle.

NASA continues to release orbital tracking elements for the space station, precisely defining the complex's orbit. They are known to amateur satellite trackers and ham radio operators as NASA two-line elements, or TLEs.

These elements can be downloaded from numerous sites on the internet and are commonly used by satellite tracking software to predict when the space station is visible in the night sky.

The NASA-provided elements also can be used to predict when Earth's rotation will carry any given site -- including the shuttle launch pads -- directly into the orbital plane of the station.

Using these elements, satellite tracking software indicates Atlantis will take off within a few minutes of 5:16 p.m. EST (2216 GMT) on April 4, close to the time that this site has been reporting for months.

The liftoff time changes slightly over time based on the station's orbit and will be refined by flight controllers in Houston up until 90 minutes before launch when the latest radar tracking of the outpost is computed.

Using this simple math it is also possible to roughly calculate the launch time by taking the last launch time for a shuttle mission to the space station and subtracting 24 minutes for each day that has passed since then. That is the average daily procession rate for the station's orbit. Using this system gives a launch time of 5:19 p.m. EST (2219 GMT).

Spaceflight Now has posted our usual package of mission charts -- including the detailed flight plan and other timelines -- based upon the 5:16 p.m. EST launch time. A comprehensive mission preview story will be online in a few days.

The main goal of Atlantis' mission is to deliver the so-called S0 truss. It will form the central portion of the station's backbone, the eventual nine-piece truss supporting power and cooling systems for the expansion of the orbiting complex.

Atlantis' crew is led by commander Mike Bloomfield, with rookie pilot Stephen Frick, flight engineer Ellen Ochoa and spacewalkers Jerry Ross, Steve Smith, Lee Morin and Rex Walheim. Ross will be making a record-setting seventh space flight, the most of any astronaut in history.

Atlantis' 25th flight, the 109th in shuttle history and second of 2002 is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center on April 15.

Soviet Space
For the first time ever available in the West. Rocket & Space Corporation Energia: a complete pictorial history of the Soviet/Russian Space Program from 1946 to the present day all in full color. Available from our store.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Viking patch
This embroidered mission patch celebrates NASA's Viking Project which reached the Red Planet in 1976.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Apollo 7 DVD
For 11 days the crew of Apollo 7 fought colds while they put the Apollo spacecraft through a workout, establishing confidence in the machine what would lead directly to the bold decision to send Apollo 8 to the moon just 2 months later.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Gemini 12
Gemini 12: The NASA Mission Reports covers the voyage of James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin that capped the Gemini program's efforts to prove the technologies and techniques that would be needed for the Apollo Moon landings. Includes CD-ROM.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

An insider's view of how Apollo flight controllers operated and just what they faced when events were crucial.
 Choose your store:
U.S.

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

Apollo 16
NEW! The latest in Apogee Book's acclaimed NASA Mission Reports series features the Apollo 16 expedition to the lunar highland area of Descartes. Includes CD-ROM.
 U.S. STORE
 U.K. & WORLDWIDE STORE

Get e-mail updates
Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop (privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose).
Enter your e-mail address:

Apollo 12 tribute DVD set

New! Featuring the jovial crew of Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 mission was struck by lightning shortly after liftoff but proceeded on the second successful exploration voyage to the lunar surface. This three-disc DVD brings the mission to life with extraordinary detail.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Fallen Heroes special patch
This special 12-inch embroidered patch commemorates the U.S. astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice, honoring the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Women in Space
Women of Space: Cool Careers on the Final Frontier is for girls, young women, and anyone else interested in learning about exciting careers in space exploration. Includes CD-ROM.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
 Choose your store:
U.S.


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

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.