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Launch Day Arrives, Tanking Begins


*Launch Day Arrives, Tanking Begins*

/ Sept. 8, 4:20 a.m. EDT (0820 UTC)/
At Launch Pad 39B, the three-hour process for loading of Space Shuttle 
Atlantis' orange external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and 
hydrogen began at 2:49 a.m EDT this morning. The "topping off" of 
propellants into the tank will continue until liftoff. All systems 
onboard the space shuttle are functioning normally and are ready for 
launch at 11:41 a.m. (1541 UTC)

Throughout the morning, the STS-115 astronauts will prepare for launch 
in the Operations and Checkout Building's crew quarters before taking 
the 20-minute ride to the launch pad about 7:50 a.m. this morning aboard 
the Astrovan.

Launch weather remains at 70 percent "go" for launch, with the primary 
concern for rain within 20 miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility. No 
other issues are being addressed by the launch team at this time.

*Mission Management Briefing*
During a Thursday evening news conference Wayne Hale, Space Shuttle 
Program manager, said the decision to fly came about after a lively and 
inclusive meeting with space shuttle mission managers and engineers held 
in the early afternoon. "If you ever wanted to see the difference 
between the old NASA and the new NASA, you should've been over there 
today. There was a chance for everyone to participate." Hale continued 
to say that the Mission Management team's vote to fly on Friday was 
nearly unanimous.

The decision to launch follows analysis of an issue found with one of 
Atlantis' three electricity-generating fuel cells, which was discovered 
during pre-launch preparations earlier this week. NASA engineers have 
determined that any failure of the suspect fuel cell during the mission 
poses no danger to Atlantis and its crew. They also believe two fuel 
cells alone would provide Atlantis with enough power to accomplish the 
major goals of the mission.

*Atlantis' Crew and Mission *
The STS-115 crew consists of Commander Brent W. Jett Jr., Pilot 
Christopher J. Ferguson and Mission Specialists Heidemarie M. 
Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steven G. 
MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency.
+ Learn more about the crew 

With this mission, NASA is ready to get back to building the 
International Space Station, marking the first time in almost four years 
that a space station component has been added to the orbiting outpost. 
That also means the shuttle program is coming up on some of the most 
challenging space missions ever.
+ Learn more about the mission 

During their three spacewalks, crew members of Atlantis will install the 
P3/P4 integrated truss and a second set of solar arrays on the space 
station, doubling the stationís current ability to generate power from 
sunlight and adding 17.5 tons to its mass.
+ Learn more about the truss 
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