Spaceflight Now STS-110

NASA starts counting down to Thursday's shuttle launch
Posted: April 2, 2002

File image of Atlantis sitting on the launch pad. Photo: NASA-KSC
It began in secret sometime Monday but NASA says the three-day countdown to Thursday's launch of space shuttle Atlantis is underway at the Kennedy Space Center.

"I'm pleased to be here this morning to report that the STS-110 launch countdown has been begun," NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding announced to the world at 9 a.m. EST today.

"Things are proceeding very well. The shuttle Atlantis is in excellent shape," Spaulding reported.

Atlantis is loaded with the 27,000 pound S0 truss structure that will delivered to the space station during the 11-day flight. The S0 truss is the centerpiece of a cross truss that eventually will stretch the length of a football field, supporting four huge sets of solar arrays.

The Atlantis flight marks the first time in the 21-year history of the space shuttle program that NASA is trying to keep secret the launch time for a civilian mission.

NASA isn't saying exactly when launch will occur, only that will happen sometime between 2 and 6 p.m. EST (1900-2300 GMT). The precise launch time to be announced officially 24 hours in advance as part of the agency's new security plan.

But NASA-provided tracking elements of the space station's orbit can be used with readily available home computer software to show Atlantis will take off within a few minutes of 5:16 p.m. EST (2216 GMT) Thursday.

Atlantis' seven astronauts -- commander Mike Bloomfield, pilot Steve Frick, flight engineer Ellen Ochoa and spacewalkers Jerry Ross, Steve Smith, Lee Morin and Rex Walheim -- arrived at Kennedy Space Center from their homes in Houston on Monday at about 12 noon EST.

The arrival lacked the usual fanfare as NASA barred the press from attending the event and the agency did not provide its usual live TV coverage.

"We're really happy to be down here to the Cape," said Bloomfield, speaking to an agency video camera set up at the runway to record the arrival for replay three hours later. "A trip into space always begins down here at the Kennedy Space Center and there's a great group of people down here that build spaceships that allow people to go into space. We're very fortunate to be part of that team."

The seven astronauts gather to make a taped statement to the public after their arrival at Kennedy Space Center for launch. Photo: NASA-KSC
The weather forecast for Thursday now calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions. Meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on low cloud ceilings and rain as possible constraints to liftoff.

"A cold front will be moving through Florida on launch day. The front will be located in the northern Florida peninsula in the morning and moving through central Florida during the late morning. By launch time, the front will be located south in the vicinity of Lake Okeechobee. Expect thunderstorms and showers ahead of the front intermittently affecting KSC throughout the day. A threat of showers and low cloud ceilings will also continue behind the front," said Kathy Winters, the shuttle weather officer.

The launch time conditions are predicted to include scattered stratcumulus clouds at 2,000 feet with 4/8ths and occasional 5/8ths sky coverage and tops at 5,000 feet, altoscattered cumulus clouds at 10,000 feet with 3/8ths sky coverage and tops at 13,000 feet and scattered cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet with 3/8ths sky coverage and tops at 27,000 feet, visibility of 7 miles, north-northwesterly winds from 340 degrees at 12 peaking to 17 knots, temperature of 74 degrees F and relative humidity of 79 percent.

Should the launch slip to Friday for some reason, the weather improves to a 80 percent chance of meeting the launch rules. The concerns are low cloud ceilings and crosswinds.

Saturday's forecast is worse with a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather due to low cloud ceilings, rain and crosswinds.

Recent updates

01:30 PM
Quick-look Data

07:30 AM
Entry Timeline

12:00 AM
Master Flight Plan

Daily Flight Plan (FD-11/12)

12:50 AM
Undocking timeline

11:50 PM
NASA TV Sked (rev. I)

05:40 PM
Spacewalk Stats

Apollo 11 special patch
Special collectors' patch marking the 35th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing is now available.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

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

The ultimate Apollo 11 DVD
This exceptional chronicle of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission features new digital transfers of film and television coverage unmatched by any other.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Next ISS crew
Own a little piece of history with this official patch for the International Space Station's Expedition 11 crew. We'll ship yours today!
 Choose your store:

Columbia Report
The official accident investigation report into the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven. Includes CD-ROM.
 Choose your 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!

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!

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

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

Project Orion
The Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.

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

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.
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:

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



© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.