Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-129
Payload: ISS ULF 3
Launch: Nov. 16, 2009
Time: 2:28 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: Nov. 27 @ approx. 9:45 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

Mission Status Center

By Justin Ray

Welcome to Spaceflight Now's live coverage of space shuttle Atlantis' STS-129 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page.
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1625 GMT (11:25 a.m. EST)
With just under two weeks left to go until their scheduled blastoff, the six Atlantis astronauts climbed aboard the space shuttle for a dress rehearsal at launch pad 39A today.

Commander Charlie Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher wrapped up the countdown simulation in preparation for the November 16 launch to the International Space Station.

"I thought it went extremely well. I appreciate everybody being so flexible in having dates moving around and trying to accommodate Ares. I know you guys have been extremely busy trying to accomplish all these objectives and keep everything spaced out," Hobaugh told the launch control team.

"I think everything was done perfectly well, in the right cadence. Nothing was missed, and I thought this sim was an excellent show of how far we've been able to come with all these different vehicles. So thanks for everything."

Today's test was slated to occur last month. But scheduling conflicts and the manpower needed to pull off the Ares 1-X test flight prompted NASA to split the crew's activities into two parts, with the emergency training being completed on October 19 and 20 and the countdown happening this morning.

The Astrovan delivered the astronauts to the seaside pad around 8 a.m. EDT to begin entering the orbiter and taking their assigned seats just like the actual countdown.

Clocks ticked down to T-minus 4 seconds before ending with a mock abort at 11:05 a.m. EDT. The final countdown also practiced holds at the intermediate way points of T-minus 5 minutes and T-minus 1 minute, 57 seconds.

The Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test concluded with the suited astronauts exiting the shuttle to rehearse emergency evacuation procedures.

Later today, they'll stop by the pad's cleanroom for a close inspection of the mission payloads. The two pallet-like carriers of spare parts for the International Space Station are awaiting installation into Atlantis' cargo bay on Wednesday.

The crew will fly back to Houston later today to finish final training there. They'll return to Florida on November 12 to begin their countdown to launch.

A chart of launch windows can be viewed here. Also, check out the latest version of the mission's here.

1605 GMT (11:05 a.m. EST)
T-minus 4 seconds. The simulated countdown abort has occurred for today's dress rehearsal. The crew is practicing the safing procedures before exiting the shuttle.
1555 GMT (10:55 a.m. EST)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The TCDT has entered into the final phase of this morning's practice countdown.
1409 GMT (9:09 a.m. EST)
Commander Charlie Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher suited up and headed to launch pad 39A this morning where they just finished boarding space shuttle Atlantis for the countdown rehearsal.

This is a "dry" count with no cryogenic fuels on the spacecraft. But it is giving both the astronauts and the launch team a chance to run through the procedures that will be employed for real on November 16 when Atlantis is slated to blast off.

The shuttle Atlantis astronauts returned to the Florida spaceport for Tuesday's launch countdown dress rehearsal, an event that was scrubbed a couple of weeks ago so that Kennedy Space Center workers could focus on the Ares 1-X test.

The crew visited the Cape on October 19 and 20 to complete the emergency training and drills before going back to Houston.

Now that the Ares 1-X launch has been completed, attention has shifted to final preps for Atlantis' November 16 mission to the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, the astronauts will board the space shuttle for a full launch day simulation as part of the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test.

The crew will follow a normal launch morning routine with breakfast, a weather briefing on conditions at the Cape and various abort landing sites, then don their suits and depart crew quarters at about 7:45 a.m. to board the Astrovan that will take them to pad 39A.

After arriving shortly past 8 a.m., all seven astronauts will climb inside Atlantis and strap into their assigned seats for the final three hours of the mock countdown.

Clocks will halt in the final seconds to simulate a shutdown of the three main engines just prior to liftoff around 11 a.m. The crew will egress the shuttle and practice scurrying to the slide-wire baskets.

Another trip back to Houston is planned for Tuesday afternoon for the last days of mission training at the Johnson Space Center. The crew is due back in Florida for the start of Atlantis' real countdown on November 12.

NASA managers met at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday and tentatively cleared the shuttle Atlantis for launch Nov. 16 on a three-spacewalk mission to deliver nearly 15 tons of spare parts and supplies to the International Space Station.

Read our full story.

1255 GMT (8:55 a.m. EDT)
The transportation canister shaped like a space shuttle cargo bay was driven to launch pad 39A overnight and hoisted into the rotating service structure. The canister doors will be opened to allow the mission payloads to be unloaded into the pad's cleanroom, then the gantry can move back around Atlantis tomorrow for the installation of two large pallets carrying the spare parts to be mounted outside the space station during the flight.
2119 GMT (5:19 p.m. EDT)
The upcoming press conference looks like it won't start until 6 p.m. EDT.
2107 GMT (5:07 p.m. EDT)
The Flight Readiness Review has concluded and NASA officials have voted a "go" to launch space shuttle Atlantis on its mission to deliver critical spare parts to the International Space Station at 2:28 p.m. EST on November 16.

The launch team will have the ability to make three launch attempts in a four-day period beginning on the 16th.

More details and information will be forthcoming from a news conference at 5:30 p.m. EDT today. You can watch live streaming video of the briefing on this page.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)
Following a pause in work the past couple of days while NASA focused on launching the Ares 1-X test rocket from nearby pad 39B, activities have now resumed on space shuttle Atlantis at pad 39A.

The rotating service structure will be pulled back today in preparation to receive the mission payloads that are scheduled to arrive for hoisting into the pad's cleanroom.

Meanwhile, senior agency officials are gathered at Kennedy Space Center for the day-long Flight Readiness Review to assess Atlantis' posture to fly the upcoming mission to the International Space Station. The meeting aims to set the official launch date for the shuttle, which is targeted for 2:28 p.m. EST on November 16.

Space shuttle Atlantis' six astronauts jetted into the Kennedy Space Center today for an abbreviated training session instead of the three days of drills and a countdown dress rehearsal originally planned. At the same time, NASA officials moved the target launch date to November 16.

Read our full story.

Commander Charlie Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher flew from Houston to the Cape aboard T-38 jets and a Gulfstream plane.

Every shuttle crew undergoes the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT, in the final weeks before a planned launch. While in Florida, the astronauts are supposed to spend time learning how to evacuate pad 39A if an emergency arises, including procedures to operate the slide-wire baskets that would quickly whisk the crew from the launch tower to a bunker west of the pad, and test-drive an armored tank available for the astronauts to escape the area.

The original plan called for the astronauts to board Atlantis on Wednesday for a full countdown simulation. However, scheduling conflicts and man-power issues with the Ares 1-X rocket preps have forced NASA to rethink the shuttle plans. The mock countdown will be pushed back to early November, after the Ares launch.

Launch of Atlantis is now targeted for November 16, four days later than had been planned. But that date assumes an Atlas 5 rocket slated for November 14 goes on time and a slot on the Eastern Range manifest can arranged for the shuttle.

1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)
The space shuttle Atlantis astronauts are traveling to the Kennedy Space Center today to begin a countdown simulation. Five of the crew members are expected to arrive after 11 a.m. in T-38 training jets. But Leland Melvin will be delayed after the Gulfstream jet he was flying aboard had an issue and returned to Houston. His arrival time is not yet known.

The astronauts will undergo two days of training, then participate in the mock launch day rehearsal on Wednesday.

A gallery of photos showing Atlantis traveling from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39A can be viewed here.

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1900 GMT (2:00 p.m. EDT)
A laser alignment system helped technicians precisely position the platform, then the crawler lowered it onto the pad's pedestals to complete Atlantis' rollout at 1:31 p.m. EDT.

In the next few hours and days, the methodical process of hooking up the crew module assess and hydrogen vent arms extending from the launch tower, as well as electrical, propellant, communications and other lines between the ground systems and mobile launch platform will begin.

The astronauts will be here next week for a countdown dress rehearsal.

Launch remains targeted for no sooner than November 12.

1645 GMT (12:45 p.m. EDT)
Space shuttle Atlantis has arrived atop the pad. The rollout's official conclusion time will be marked when the launch platform is secured to the pad pedestals.
1620 GMT (12:20 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis has ascended up the concrete ramp of launch pad 39A, its crawler-transporter having used massive hydraulic pistons to keep the mobile platform level.

Now atop the pad surface, a precision laser guidance system will help align the platform over the pad pedestals. The crawler will lower the platform onto the pedestals to complete the rollout.

1555 GMT (11:55 a.m. EDT)
The crawler transporter hauling space shuttle Atlantis is now climbing the concrete ramp to the launch pad.
1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)
Continuing to make good progress on the road to the launch pad, Atlantis has gone by the Visitor Center's observation gantry and the fork in the crawlerway that splits off to pad 39B. The shuttle should reach its destination at pad 39A in a couple of hours.
1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)
Continuing to make good progress on the road to the launch pad, Atlantis has gone by the Visitor Center's observation gantry and the fork in the crawlerway that splits off to pad 39B. The shuttle should reach its destination at pad 39A in a couple of hours.
1300 GMT (9:00 a.m. EDT)
Hauling the shuttle stack out to launch pad 39A on this 3.5-mile trek is one of NASA's two Apollo-era crawler-transporters. The combined weight of the transporter, mobile launch platform and shuttle Atlantis is 17.5 million pounds.

The stone-covered pathway connecting the VAB to the launch pad is 130 feet wide -- almost as broad as an eight-lane highway. Two 40-foot-wide lanes are separated by a 50-foot-wide median strip. The average depth is seven feet.

About 30 people are aboard the transporter to operate it during the rollout, including three drivers -- a prime and backup in the front cabin and one in the rear -- a jacking and leveling operator, a control room operator to run crawler systems and talk with the Launch Control Center, two electricians, two electronic technicians and four diesel mechanics for starting, monitoring and shutting down the transporter's engines. The other team members are mechanics watching over the roll and helping with the platform's docking to the launch pad.

The transporter consumes 126 gallons of diesel fuel in each mile it travels from the VAB to pad. The vehicle has a fuel capacity of 5,000 gallons.

1055 GMT (6:55 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis has emerged from the VAB as a small shower drops some rain on the Complex 39 area.
1038 GMT (6:38 a.m. EDT)
ROLLOUT BEGINS. Inside the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building, the transporter has started driving space shuttle Atlantis toward Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A. It will take about six hours for the Apollo-era mover to get the spacecraft out to the seaside pad.
1015 GMT (6:15 a.m. EDT)
The crawler-transporter has hydraulically lifted the mobile launching platform off the pedestals in the Vehicle Assembly Building. And the gates on the crawlerway have been opened up.
0945 GMT (5:45 a.m. EDT)
Final work is underway this morning to prepare for Atlantis' trip to the launch pad. The ground team has been on duty for a few hours now. The crawler is positioned beneath the launch platform, the Vehicle Assembly Building doors are open and the news media has gathered to cover today's move of the space shuttle.
After spending the past week inside the Vehicle Assembly Building being attached to its fuel tank, twin rocket boosters and mobile launching platform, space shuttle Atlantis will journey out to Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A on Wednesday morning.

The comprehensive interface test to confirm good electrical and mechanical connections between the now-stacked shuttle has been completed. Final chores and the retraction of work platforms are underway today.

The rollout team will report for duty at 2 a.m. EDT, leading to first motion of crawler-transporter around 6 a.m. EDT. The 3.5-mile trip will take about six hours to complete.

Watch this page for live updates throughout Atlantis' move to launch pad 39A.

Atlantis was firmly connected to the external tank early Thursday and work to attach the power, data and fuel umbilicals between the mobile launching platform and orbiter was underway Friday inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. The integrated systems test between all of the shuttle elements is planned for this weekend.

But on Friday, NASA officials decided to add an extra day in the VAB before rollout to launch pad 39A. The crane delays this week and the workload for technicians also preparing the Ares 1-X rocket prompted officials to alter Atlantis' schedule.

The three-and-a-half-mile trip to pad 39A will begin at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

The space agency says the delay won't impact Atlantis' chances of being ready to launch on November 12.

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Atlantis was carefully lowered down into the assembly bay and spotted just a few feet away from the attachment points on the external fuel tank late this afternoon. Workers will spend many hours getting the orbiter firmly bolted to the tank for the climb into space.

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1825 GMT (2:25 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis has been maneuvered into the Vehicle Assembly Building's high bay 1 where the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters have been stacked a mobile launching platform. The orbiter is being lowered into position for mounting to the tank.
1627 GMT (12:27 p.m. EDT)
After earlier delays to troubleshoot an issue with the crane controls, shuttle Atlantis has begun its ascent upward in the Vehicle Assembly Building.
1300 GMT (9:00 a.m. EDT)
Shuttle Atlantis remains suspended vertically over the center aisle of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The planned late-night hoisting in position for attachment to the fuel tank and boosters was delayed while engineers assess an issue with the overhead crane. NASA says the crane's controls aren't able to make fine-adjustments in the north direction.
2043 GMT (4:43 p.m. EDT)
Atlantis is beginning to go vertical. The Vehicle Assembly Building cranes have started to turn the spacecraft upright to point its nose toward the sky. Later tonight the shuttle will be moved up, over into and lowered down in the bay where the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters await.

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2015 GMT (4:15 p.m. EDT)
The Orbiter Transporter System that hauled Atlantis between the hangar and VAB earlier today has done its job and driven away. This clears the center aisle of the assembly building for rotation of the shuttle from horizontal to vertical.
1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)
Shuttle Atlantis has begun to take its ride in the lifting sling. The overhead cranes just lifted the spacecraft off of its transporter. In the coming hours, Atlantis will be turned vertically and then hoisted over the transom into the assembly bay.
1215 GMT (8:15 a.m. EDT)
IN THE VAB! With its mission to haul spare parts to the International Space Station just over a month away, shuttle Atlantis moved from its hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building this morning in preparation for launch to the outpost on November 12.

Atlantis is rolling to a stop inside the cavernous building where the ship will be mated to its external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters over the next few days.

A metal "sling" is standing by to grab ahold of Atlantis later today, lifting the shuttle from the transport hauler that carried it from the hangar during the past hour. A heavy-duty crane will rotate the spacecraft vertically, then begin the methodical process of hoisting the ship high into the rafters, over to the assembly bay and carefully lowering Atlantis into position next to the awaiting fuel tank for attachment.

Once the completed vehicle is fully mated together, the comprehensive Shuttle Interface Test to check the electrical and mechanical connections between the orbiter, tank and boosters will begin later this week.

Rollout of Atlantis to pad 39A is targeted for next Tuesday.

Atlantis' mission will deliver two spare parts-carrying pallets to the International Space Station, with gyroscopes, tanks and replacement pieces for the robotic arm and mobile transporter.

1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT)
Atlantis is entering the VAB doorway.
1150 GMT (7:50 a.m. EDT)
Groups of space center workers are posing for photos with Atlantis throughout this morning's trek.
1145 GMT (7:45 a.m. EDT)
The Orbiter Transporter System is hauling the spacecraft between the hangar and VAB.

You can envision the OTS as a yellow motorized trailer. The transporter is 106 feet in length, weighs 167,000 pounds unloaded and about 327,000 pounds with an orbiter on top and sports 76 wheels. It has a turning radius of 66 feet.

The top speed of the transporter while carrying Atlantis is five miles per hour. The V12 engine generates about 335 horsepower.

1128 GMT (7:28 a.m. EDT)
After a glacial retreat out of the hangar, shuttle Atlantis has emerged completely from the Orbiter Processing Facility.
1059 GMT (6:59 a.m. EDT)
MOVE BEGINS. Riding aboard a special carrier vehicle, balanced atop two attach fixtures in the aft and one under its nose, space shuttle Atlantis is leaving the hangar it has called home for the past four months.

First motion occurred moments ago.

After Atlantis reaches the center aisle of the VAB, cranes will be connected later today to turn the 100-ton spaceplane upright and hoist it into the nearby bay where the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters await.

1052 GMT (6:52 a.m. EDT)
The transporter just fired up its engine.
1040 GMT (6:40 a.m. EDT)
Good morning from just outside Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1 where the ground crew is sliding open the hangar doors right now in preparation for rollout of space shuttle Atlantis.

The northside doors to the Vehicle Assembly Building have been opened to receive the spacecraft when it is moved a short time from now.

The sun hasn't risen yet but the Kennedy Space Center is abuzz with workers. Watch this page for continuing updates on Atlantis' milestone move.

Shuttle Atlantis will head to the Vehicle Assembly Building at sunrise Tuesday, taking the first step on the road to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is scheduled to leave its hangar at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) for the quarter-mile move to the giant VAB atop a trailer-like transporter. Cranes inside the assembly building will hoist Atlantis vertically and attach the orbiter to the waiting tank and solid rocket boosters.

The fully assembled space shuttle vehicle will be rolled to launch pad 39A on October 13.

Since returning from the highly successful Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission earlier this year, Atlantis has undergone extensive preparations for the upcoming flight to deliver spare parts and equipment to the International Space Station. Liftoff is targeted for November 12 at 4:04 p.m. EST.

In just the last few days, ground teams completed leak checks on the shuttle's compartments, pressurized the landing gear tires, performed final weighing and center of gravity determinations and positioned the transporter vehicle beneath the shuttle for Tuesday's move. Workers spent the weekend finishing chores inside the crew module.

Atlantis' crew includes commander Charlie Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher.

Two upcoming satellite launches, a pair of meteor showers, multiple Russian missions and tight launch windows are causing potential headaches for NASA planners looking ahead to the next shuttle mission in November.

NASA is readying the shuttle Atlantis for roll out to pad 39A on Oct. 13 and launch around Nov. 12 on a mission to deliver critical spare parts to the International Space Station. But the ship's nine-day launch window currently is in conflict with a pair of unmanned satellite launches, one a commercial mission and the other military.

Read our full story.

The astronauts launching on Atlantis: Leland Melvin, commander Charlie Hobaugh, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher, pilot Barry Wilmore and Randy Bresnik.

Photo galleries:
Space shuttle Atlantis readied for its next
mission to the International Space Station:
Move from hangar to VAB | Rollout to pad 39A