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2 p.m. CDT, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-115 MCC Status Report #01

Atlantis launched into an almost clear Florida sky this morning for an 
11-day mission that marks the return to assembly of the International 
Space Station.

Today marks the first time in almost four years that a major new space 
station component has been launched. Atlantis' mission begins a series 
of complex station expansion missions that will be among the most 
challenging spaceflights in history.

Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialists 
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joe Tanner, Dan Burbank and Steve MacLean, 
a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, lifted off at 10:15 a.m. CDT. The 
launch followed a flawless countdown.

During the climb to orbit, Mission Control asked the crew to reconfigure 
a cooling system that apparently had ice build up. The reconfiguration 
cleared the system, called the Flash Evaporator System, and it operated 
normally. Temporary ice in that cooling unit is not uncommon and has 
occurred on previous missions.

Moments after main engine cutoff, 8.5 minutes after liftoff, Tanner and 
MacLean used handheld video and digital still cameras to document the 
external tank after it separated from the shuttle. That imagery, as well 
as imagery gathered by cameras in the shuttle’s umbilical well where the 
tank was connected, will be transmitted to the ground for review.

As Atlantis launched, the space station was 220 miles above the northern 
Atlantic Ocean, between Greenland and Iceland. Aboard the outpost are 
Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov, a Russian cosmonaut; Flight 
Engineer and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams; and Flight Engineer 
Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency. They watched the launch via 
a live television transmission from Houston. Atlantis is set to dock to 
the complex at about 5:46 a.m. CDT Sept. 11.

Atlantis' crew will install the 17.5-ton, bus-sized P3/P4 integrated 
truss section to the station that includes a second set of solar arrays, 
batteries and associated electronics. The addition eventually will 
double the station’s capability to generate power from sunlight. The 
girder-like P3/P4 truss is 45 feet long.

Three spacewalks are planned to install the truss, deploy the arrays and 
prepare them for operation. Two teams, Tanner and Piper and Burbank and 
MacLean, will conduct the spacewalks.

During the mission, a thorough inspection will be performed in orbit of 
Atlantis' heat shield as has been done on the past two shuttle flights. 
Atlantis' time at the station could be extended by one or two days if 
needed to allow more time to complete those inspections or other 
operations. A second inspection of the heat shield is planned after 
Atlantis departs the station near the end of the flight to ensure it 
remains in good condition for landing.

When Atlantis arrives at the station, it will mark only the second time 
that as many as four of the station's five international partners have 
been represented onboard.

STS-115 is the 116th space shuttle mission and the 19th to visit the 
station. Atlantis is making its 27th flight and sixth trip to the station.

Atlantis’ crew begins an eight-hour sleep period at 4:15 p.m. CDT. The 
astronauts will awaken at 12:15 a.m. CDT Sunday to begin their first 
full day in orbit.

The next STS-115 status report will be issued shortly after crew wakeup, 
or earlier if events warrant.

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