Update 3 STS-128 launch ascent flight control team video replay:
Update 1: NASA Kennedy YouTube channel now has the launch video in SD.
03:59:06 UTC @ T-00:31 – Auto-sequence start. Discovery’s on-board computers have primary control of all vehicle’s critical functions.
03:59:22 UTC @ T-00:15 – The Sound Suppression Water System has been activated to protect Discovery and the launch pad from acoustical energy and rocket exhaust reflected from the flame trench and Mobile Launcher Platform during launch.
03:59:28 UTC @ T-00:09 – The hydrogen burn-off system begins to eliminate free hydrogen exhausted into the main engine nozzles during the start sequence to prevent small, but potentially dangerous, explosions when the main engines ignite.
03:59:30 UTC @ T-00:06.6 (and 06.48, 06.36) – The three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) start.
03:59:37 UTC @ T-00:00 – Lift-off. Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) ignition and lift-off of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 17A mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This is Discovery’s 37th flight overall and the 30th mission to the ISS. The seven crew members of STS-128, commanded by NASA veteran Frederick W. Sturckow (STS-88, STS-105, STS-117), will stay in space 12 days 18 hours and 9 minutes and are scheduled land at the Kennedy Space Center at 23:09 UTC on September 10. Mission Specialists John “Danny” Olivas, Christer Fuglesang and Nicole Stott will combined for total of 19.5 hours during 3 planned spacewalks (EVA) on flight days 5, 7 and 9.
~04:00:22 UTC @ ~T+00:45 – The shuttle passed Mach 1 while the engines were throttling down before Max-Q (the point of the greatest dynamic pressure)
04:01:40 UTC @ T+02:03 – Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) separation. Discovery is at the altitude of 45 km, 40 km down range from the KSC, traveling at 5800 km/h (Mach 4).
04:02:07 UTC @ T+02:30 – 2 engine Moron. Discovery can now reach the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site in Moron in the case of a single engine failure.
04:03:30 UTC @ T+03:53 – Negative Return – Discovery has used too much fuel and is traveling too fast, too high and is too far to return to the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for a potential Return To Launch Site (RTLS) abort.
04:04:32 UTC @ T+04:55 – Press to ATO select Istres – Discovery could now reach a safe 195 by 157 km orbit with two Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) throttled at Typical Mission Power Level (104.5%) in case of a single SSME failure. Should one of the engines fail the crew could execute the Abort To Orbit (ATO) maneuver (in case of TAL abort, the landing facility in Istres, France would be used).
04:05:03 UTC @ T+05:26 – Single Engine OPS-3 – Discovery could now reach the designated TAL site with a single engine at Full Power Level (FPL), i.e 109% throttle, should two of the SSME’s fail.
04:05:48 UTC @ T+06:11 – Press to MECO (Main Engine Cut-off) and Single Engine Istres 104 – Discovery can now reach planned orbit in case of a single SSME failure and the Istres TAL site on a single engine at 104.5% throttle.
~04:06:34 UTC @ T+06:57 – Nominal shut down plan. Go for the plus X, no go for the pitch – The shuttle has reach the planned elliptical orbit (before circularization) and no correction by the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) is necessary (OMS-1 not required). After the External Tank (ET) separation (SEP) the orbiter’s Reaction Control System (RCS) will execute a negative Z (in the direction up through the roof) translation maneuver to move the orbiter away from the ET. The “no go for the pitch” refers to the ET Photo maneuver, which is a pitch around of the orbiter that allows the crew to take pictures of the tank out of the overhead windows. Because of the time of the launch, at ET SEP the orbiter will be in the darkness of the Earth’s shadow so ET photography would not yield useful data.
04:06:46 UTC @ T+07:09 – Single engine press 104 – Discovery can now reach planned orbit on a single engine at 104.5% throttle in case of two main engine failure.
04:08:01 UTC @ T+08:24 – The Main Engine Cut-off (MECO), zero thrust (at T+08:35). Discovery has reach the planned orbit and is schedule to dock with the International Space Station on Flight Day 4.
04:08:01 UTC @ T+08:35 – External Tank (ET) separation.
~04:09:22 UTC @ T+09:45 – Nominal MECO, OMS-1 not required.
STS-128 is the first spaceflight for the shuttle pilot Kevin Ford, the flight engineer for launch and landing Jose Hernandez and the flight engineer for Expedition 20 and 21 Nicole Stott who will take the place of Astronaut Time Kopra aboard the station until her return home in November aboard STS-129.
The STS-128 mission will deliver to the station the Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier and the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (Leonardo), whose main purpose is to assist with establishing a six-man crew capacity by providing extra supplies and equipment to the station, and the Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier (LMC) with Ammonia Tank Assembly (ATA).
The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, so named for comedian Stephen Colbert, will be transferred to the station on flight day 5 and set up after Discovery undocks from the station. Stephen Colbert himself, recorded a message for NASA (watch the video below)…
Every mission carries out Detailed Test Objectives (DTO’s). STS-128 has 5 planned DTO’s. One of them, the Boundary Transition Layer, will be the second phase of an experiment commenced on STS-119 in March this year.
Boundary Layer Transition is a process occurring during the shuttle re-entry as the smooth air flow along the shuttle’s heat shield becomes turbulent. The experiment will measure the heat difference between the air flow using sensors (thermometers) installed in particular tiles on the shield. A protuberance tile with a quarter inch (0.9cm) “speed bump” has been installed on Discovery’s heat shield. The tile will intentionally disrupt the smooth air flow and allow data gathering at Mach 18 during the re-entry.
24/7 coverage of the STS-128 mission will be available on NASA TV. You can also follow the Space Shuttle Discovery and the ISS in real time through NASA’s real time tracking. Information about out about visible ISS passes at your location is available from heavens-above.
The next mission to the ISS will be STS-129 planned to launch on November 12 at 21:11 UTC. The Space Shuttle Atlantis will deliver two large External Logistics Carriers holding various instruments for the station.
Discovery next flight is scheduled for March 18, 2010. The STS-131 mission (assembly flight 19A) will deliver the the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The mission will also attach a spare ammonia tank assembly outside the station and return a European experiment that has been outside the Columbus module.