Atlantis launches on first attempt to kick off STS-117

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle Atlantis and her crew of seven have successfully launched on the first attempt.

With the launch countdown proceeding very smoothly, Atlantis cleared a few issues that surrounded the three day countdown, with a picture perfect launch from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

A free launch video is now available, as moves into Flight Day 1 Live coverage.

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Tanking began at 10am local time and was completed three hours later. Issues with Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Atlantis’ Microwave Landing System (MLS) have been cleared for launch – although the latter has recieved some dissent, leading to a meeting of the Orbiter Project Office (OPO). This has concluded with a ‘go’ for launch.

Tanking was set to be delayed, following early morning notes of a GSE issue relating to the He bottle fill primary regulator pressure.

‘Since then, the system pressure has steadily dropped. If the secondary regulator takes over, there is no way to determine how far the primary regulator could drop,’ added NASA information acquired by L2. 

‘Troubleshooting plan is to close the secondary regulator from the console and to monitor the system pressure for about an hour. If the primary regulator is out of limits, it could be adjusted at the pad prior to tanking.

‘We will continue to monitor it as there is a possible constraint to Cryo loading; it is a GSE issue.’

**Ride home through the fire and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis on STS-115 – And now also with Discovery on STS-116 – TWO Stunning high quality 2hr, 355mb videos – from deorbit burn to post landing**

However, shortly after, managers met to discuss the forward plan for tanking, which resulted in news that the regulator had returned to required parameters, ‘indicating no need to adjust req out at the pad.’

Tanking was then given a green light to proceed, along with notes that no outstanding issues were being worked. ‘Tanking to begin at 1000 EDT. MSBLS (MLS), O2 He OMRS (GSE issue) waivers. Go for tanking.’

The MLS issue is still recieving some dissent, notably from the Orbiter Project Office (OPO), who met at 1pm EDT.

‘OPO is going to talk MLS at 1 pm EDT and will be ready to support MMT at 4pm,’ noted manager Ed Mango at the Tanking Teleconference prior to the OPO meeting. ‘Everyone in OPO team are on side of no confidence in this MLS. We are going to discuss if we have a RA issue can we gain any confidence in this MLS.’

This issue has now been cleared by the OPO, following the conclusion of their meeting.

The MSBLS story was just presented to Steve Polous at a special OPO tagup. Steve was pleased with the efforts of all the players,’ noted information at the conclusion of the meeting. 

‘The complete story gives confidence that we are okay to go with an assumed failed MSBLS (MLS) unit.’

Tanking was a huge success, with absolutely no issue noted with the ECO (Engine Cut Off) sensors. The tank is now in stable replenish.

Following a succeesful ECO sensor check, one of the LOX sensors flashed dry, before reventing back to wet. Managers are looking into the issue, which was reported by Atlantis’ MPS (Main Propulsion System). However, this was cleared within 30 minutes of it being reported.

‘MPS Integ calls it an explained condition,’ noted a memo. ‘A DRY output occurs during the SIM command transitions nominally, but is usually not seen due to the data sample rate.’

Constantly updated throughout the countdown – refer to live update pages on open site and L2 for up-to-the second updates.

**INFINITY: 10 minute STS MUSIC VIDEO** – COMING SOON: Atlantis/Starlight.
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