Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Msg from NASA wrt Launch Countdown Update


  1. From:
    Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 8:47 PM;
    Subject: Launch Countdown Update

    To my fellow Space Cadets!

    We just finished our last integrated ascent simulation here in Houston, completing roughly 14 months of training in the Space Shuttle cockpit. It was definitely a ‘varsity’ level run, yet very emotional when we said goodbye to our training team that has prepared us as a crew to ride the rocket. The Space Shuttle is such an amazing machine! It is a little less forgiving than other vehicles but it has been such an incredible journey getting to understand and really know how it is engineered.

    We’ve been in quarantine here in Houston since Tuesday (10/16), and it has been an interesting experience. I thought things would slow down a bit, but not so. We have been sleep-shifting and keeping a pretty crazy pace with last-minute preparations. We’re leaving for the Cape tomorrow morning (10/19) to meet up with Discovery, already waiting for us on the launch pad. With an on-time launch on 10/23, my three spacewalks are scheduled on Friday (10/26), Tuesday (10/30), and Thursday (11/1). Scott and I will exit the airlock somewhere between 4:30am – 5:30am Central Daylight Time.

    I know many of you have questions about the launch countdown. I’ve attached an e-mail below from the NASA PAO team in Florida, with some details about the launch count, and some things that you may find helpful in understanding what you will see and hear. When you get to the launch viewing site, you’ll have a countdown clock to follow as well as a PA system, over which you will hear a lot of “NASA Speak”. To make the experience a little more enjoyable, I wanted to take a minute to briefly explain some of the things you’ll experience.

    You’ll notice right away that the countdown clock will stop at T-20 minutes for a 10-minute hold, and then again at T-9 minutes for somewhere between 40-45 minutes. These are planned, built-in holds to give extra margin to teams troubleshooting any anomalies, updating navigation and trajectory calculations, and last-minute updates to the Shuttle’s computer systems based on the precise intercept orbit of the Space Station. The optimal launch time, to the exact second, could fall anywhere in the 5-minute launch window, and that calculation is made during the T-9 minute hold. At T-13 seconds you may see water flowing onto the launch pad surface and into the flame trench. This is perfectly normal and the deluge system dampens the acoustics on the pad, preserving the hardware that is left behind. The three Space Shuttle main engines will ignite at T-6.6 seconds producing roughly 1.12 million pounds of thrust and 39 million horsepower. At T-0, the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) ignite with 6.6 million pounds of thrust. Over the PA system you will hear several voices:

    “NTD” – NASA Test Director - Responsible for all pre-launch testing, the flight crew, the Shuttle, the external tank/solid rocket boosters, and ground support equipment. The NTD is also responsible for the safety of all personnel on the pad after fueling has occurred.

    “OTC” – Orbiter Test Conductor - in charge of all pre-flight checkout and testing of the Shuttle, and manages the engineers in the firing room who monitor the systems.

    “Houston” – The voice of the CAPCOM on console in the Mission Control Center in Houston.

    “CDR” – Commander of Discovery (Pam Melroy)
    “PLT” – Pilot (George Zamka)
    “MS1” – Mission Specialist 1 (Doug Wheelock)
    “MS2” – Stephanie Wilson
    “MS3” – Scott Parazynski
    “MS4” – Dan Tani
    “MS5” – Paolo Nespoli

    Once Discovery leaves the launch pad you will hear several voice transmissions, with the ultimate prize, “MECO” (Main Engine Cutoff). Once clear of the launch tower, you will see Discovery roll approximately 90 degrees to the right to protect the Shuttle from high dynamic pressures through first stage and to also provide better communications coverage.

    12 seconds…

    CDR to Houston: ”Houston…Discovery, roll program”
    Houston to CDR: “Roger, roll Discovery”

    1 minute & 10 seconds and supersonic…

    Houston to CDR: “Discovery…Houston, ‘Go’ at throttle up” – The Shuttle is through the sound barrier and the point of maximum dynamic pressure and can safely continue at full throttle.

    2 minutes & 32 seconds at Mach 5.6 (3,920 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, 2 engine Zaragoza, 104” – The Shuttle can abort to a trans-Atlantic landing site in Zaragoza, Spain in the event of 1 engine failure and the other 2 engines operating at 104%.

    4 minutes & 3 seconds at Mach 8.1 (5,670 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, negative return” - The Shuttle has too much downrange velocity to turn around and land back at the Kennedy Space Center.

    4 minutes & 38 seconds at Mach 9.5 (6,650 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, press to ATO” – The Shuttle can safely ‘Abort to Orbit’ into a safe earth orbit in the event of 1 engine failure.

    5 minutes & 21 seconds at Mach 11.6 (8,120 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, single engine OPS 3, Zaragoza, 109” – In the event of 2 engine failures, the Shuttle can abort to a trans-Atlantic landing site (OPS 3 site) with the 1 remaining engine operating at 109% (max).

    5 minutes & 56 seconds at Mach 13.3 (9,310 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, single engine Zaragoza, 104” – In the event of 2 engine failures, the Shuttle can make the Zaragoza, Spain landing site with the 1 remaining engine operating at 104%.

    6 minutes & 13 seconds at Mach 14.3 (10,010 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, press to MECO” – The shuttle can continue uphill to a planned MECO with 1 engine failure.

    7 minutes & 3 seconds at Mach 17.8 (12,460 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, single engine press” - The shuttle can continue uphill to a planned MECO with 2 engine failures.

    8 minutes & 30 seconds at Mach 25 (17,500 mph)

    “Discovery…Houston, nominal MECO” – The shuttle has reached orbital velocity and is safely inserted into the planned intercept orbit.

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