Update: See the mission details and more launch pictures in my STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis post.
The milestones of STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis launch (reverse order):
~ 19:37:43 GMT @ T+09:45 – Nominal MECO, OMS-1 not required.
– 19:36:31 GMT @ T+08:33 – External Tank (ET) separation.
– 19:36:20 GMT @ T+08:22 – The Main Engine Cut-off (MECO), zero thrust (at T+08:35). Atlantis has reach the planned orbit and is schedule to dock with the International Space Station on Flight Day 3.
– 19:35:13 GMT @ T+07:05 – Single engine press 104 – Atlantis can now reach planned orbit on a single engine at 104.5% throttle in case of two main engine failure.
– 19:35:05 GMT @ T+06:57 – Nominal shut down plan. Go for the plus X, and go for the pitch – The shuttle has can reach the planned elliptical orbit (before circularization) and without no a 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 “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.
– 19:34:48 GMT @ T+06:40 – Press to MECO (Main Engine Cut-off) and Single Engine Zaragoza 104 – Atlantis can now reach planned orbit in case of a single SSME failure and the Zaragoza TAL site on a single engine at 104.5% throttle.
– 19:33:33 GMT @ T+05:25 – Single Engine OPS-3 – Atlantis 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.
– 19:32:57 GMT @ T+04:49 – Press to ATO select Zaragoza – Atlantis 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 Zaragoza, Spain would be used).
– 19:31:58 GMT @ T+03:50 – Negative Return – Atlantis 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.
– 19:30:33 GMT @ T+02:25 – 2 engine Moron. Atlantis can now reach the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site in Moron in the case of a single engine failure.
– 19:30:12 GMT @ T+02:04 – Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) separation. Atlantis is at the altitude of 45 km, 40 km down range from the KSC, traveling at 5800 km/h (Mach 4).
~19:28:53 GMT @ ~T+00:45 – The shuttle passed Mach 1 while the engines were throttling down before Max-Q (the point of the greatest dynamic pressure)
– 19:28:08 GMT @ T-00:00 – Lift-off. Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) ignition and lift-off of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 (ISS assembly flight ULF3) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
– 19:28:01 GMT @ T-00:06.6 (and 06.48, 06.36) – The three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) start.
– 19:27:59 GMT @ 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.
– 19:27:53 GMT @ T-00:15 – The Sound Suppression Water System has been activated to protect Atlantis and the launch pad from acoustical energy and rocket exhaust reflected from the flame trench and Mobile Launcher Platform during launch.
– 19:27:37 GMT @ T-00:31 – Auto-sequence start. Atlantis’s on-board computers have primary control of all vehicle’s critical functions.
– 19:19:10 GMT: The countdown clock resumes at T-9min and counting.
– 17:32 GMT: Shuttle Atlantis’ hatch has been closed and latched for flight, the six STS-129 astronauts are strapped into their seats
– 15:59 GMT: The countdown clock resumes at T-3hr and counting.
– 15:39 GMT: The STS-129 crew leaves the crew quarters at the Operations and Checkout Building and board the Astrovan to head to the Pad 39A.
– 15:33 GMT: Final inspection team is on the pad looking for ice & frost buildup on the External Tank
– 12:51 GMT: The shuttle tanking went into a stable replenish and the countdown entered a 2.5 hour long inbuilt hold at T-3 hours.
– 11:50 GMT: The liquid hydrogen tanking has reached 98% and will transition from fast-full to top-off at 2700 l per minute.
– 10:42 GMT: Liquid oxygen tanking changes to fast-fill mode at almost 6,000 l per minute. Liquid hydrogen is also in fast-fill phase adding almost 32,000 liters every minute into the external tank (ET)
– 10:33 GMT: Launch teams began liquid oxygen tanking in the slow-fill phase adding 1,200 liters every minute.
– 10:03 GMT: Fueling of the External Tank began with liquid hydrogen (at 20K) started in the slow-fill mode and the liquid oxygen (at 90.188 K) will follow at 10:33 GMT.