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Launch Countdown Begins Dec. 4 for Space Shuttle Discovery

> Nov. 30, 2006
> Katherine Trinidad
> Headquarters, Washington
> 202-358-3749
> Bruce Buckingham
> Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
> 321-867-2468 
> CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA will begin the countdown for Space Shuttle 
> Discovery's STS-116 mission at 11 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 4, at the 
> T-43 hour point. During this mission, Discovery's crew will rewire 
> the International Space Station, bringing electrical power on line 
> from solar arrays launched earlier this year. 
> The Kennedy Space Center, Florida, launch team will conduct the 
> countdown from Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center. The 
> countdown includes 27 hours, 36 minutes of built-in hold time leading 
> to a preferred launch time at 9:35 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7. The 
> launch window extends an additional five minutes. 
> A detailed list of launch countdown milestones and times is available 
> at: 
> http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/news/index.html 
> This mission is the 117th space shuttle flight, the 33rd flight for 
> Discovery and the 20th U.S. flight to the International Space 
> Station. STS-116 is scheduled to last 12 days with landing at about 
> 4:35 p.m. EST on Dec. 19 at Kennedy. 
> Discovery rolled into Kennedy's Orbiter Processing Facility on July 17 
> after returning from its last mission, STS-121. The shuttle rolled 
> out of the facility's bay 3 and into the Vehicle Assembly Building on 
> Oct. 31. While in the building's high bay 3, Discovery was mated to 
> its modified external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. The entire 
> space shuttle stack was transferred to Launch Pad 39B on Nov. 9. 
> The STS-116 crew consists of Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill 
> Oefelein and mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham, 
> Nicholas Patrick, Christer Fuglesang of the European Space Agency and 
> Sunita Williams. Williams will remain aboard the station to begin a 
> six-month stay. European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, aboard 
> the station since July, will return to Earth on Discovery. 
> During STS-116, Discovery's astronauts will completely rewire and 
> activate the station's electrical and thermal control systems. The 
> crew will deliver and install the P5 truss segment between the 
> station's existing P3/P4 and P6 truss segments during two of three 
> planned spacewalks. Installation of the P5 truss will allow the solar 
> arrays on the P3/P4 and P6 truss segments to operate and rotate 
> without interfering with each other. The P5 truss will act as a 
> conduit that will transmit power and data from the P6 segment to the 
> other segments on the station. 
> For information about the STS-116 crew and the mission, visit:
> http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
> (All times Eastern)
> Launch-3 Days (Monday, Dec. 4)
> Prepare for the start of the STS-116 launch countdown 
> Perform the call to stations (10:30 p.m.)
> Countdown begins at the T-43 hour mark (11 p.m.)
> Begin final vehicle and facility closeouts for launch
> Check out backup flight systems
> Launch-2 Days (Tuesday, Dec. 5)
> Review flight software stored in mass memory units and display systems
> Load backup flight system software into Discovery's general purpose 
> computers
> Remove flight-deck platforms (7:30 a.m.)
> Begin preparations to load power reactant storage and distribution 
> system (9 a.m.)
> Activate and test navigational systems (noon)
> Flight deck preliminary inspections complete (3 p.m.)
> Enter first built-in hold at T-27 hours for duration of 4 hours (3 
> p.m.)
> Clear launch pad of all non-essential personnel
> Perform test of the vehicle's pyrotechnic initiator controllers
> Resume countdown at T-27 hours (7 p.m.) 
> Launch-1 Day (Wednesday, Dec. 6)
> Begin operations to load cryogenic reactants into Discovery's fuel 
> cell storage tanks (3 a.m.)
> Enter 4-hour built-in hold at T-19 hours (3 a.m.)
> Demate orbiter mid-body umbilical unit (3:30 a.m.)
> Resume orbiter and ground support equipment closeouts
> Resume countdown at T-19 hours (7 a.m.)
> Final preparations of the shuttle's three main engines for main 
> propellant tanking (7 a.m.)
> Begin filling pad sound suppression system water tank (9 a.m.)
> Pad sound suppression system water tank filling complete (noon)
> Close out the tail service masts on the mobile launcher platform
> Begin star tracker functional checks (2:50 p.m.) 
> Enter planned hold at T-11 hours for 13 hours, 40 minutes (3 p.m.)
> Activate orbiter's inertial measurement units
> Activate the orbiter's communications systems 
> Install film in numerous cameras on the launch pad (4:25 p.m.)
> Flight crew equipment late stow (8:40 p.m.)
> Launch Day (Thursday, Dec. 7) 
> Move Rotating Service Structure to the park position (12:27 a.m.)
> Perform ascent switch list
> Fuel cell flow-through purge complete 
> Resume countdown at T-11 hours (4:40 a.m.)
> Activate the orbiter's fuel cells (5:50 a.m.) 
> Clear the blast danger area of all non-essential personnel
> Switch Discovery's purge air to gaseous nitrogen (6:40 a.m.) 
> Enter planned 2-hour built-in hold at the T-6 hour mark (9:40 a.m.) 
> Launch team verifies no violations of launch commit criteria prior to 
> cryogenic loading of the external tank 
> Clear pad of all personnel
> Chilldown of propellant transfer lines (11:40 a.m.)
> Resume countdown at T-6 hours (11:40 a.m.) 
> Begin loading the external tank with about 500,000 gallons of 
> cryogenic propellants (about 11:50 a.m.)
> Complete filling the external tank with its flight load of liquid 
> hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants (about 2:40 p.m.)
> Final Inspection Team proceeds to launch pad
> Enter planned 3-hour built-in hold at T-3 hours (2:40 p.m.) 
> Perform inertial measurement unit preflight calibration
> Align Merritt Island Launch Area tracking antennas
> Perform open loop test with Eastern Range
> Resume countdown at T-3 hours (5:40 p.m.) 
> Crew departs Operations and Checkout Building for the pad (5:45 p.m.)
> Complete closeout preparations in the White Room
> Check cockpit switch configurations 
> Flight crew begins entry into the orbiter (about 6:15 p.m.)
> Astronauts perform air-to-ground voice checks with Launch and Mission 
> Control
> Begin to close Discovery's crew hatch (7:30 p.m.)
> Begin Eastern Range final network open loop command checks
> Perform hatch seal and cabin leak checks
> Complete White Room closeout 
> Closeout crew moves to fallback area
> Primary ascent guidance data is transferred to the backup flight 
> system
> Enter planned 10-minute hold at T-20 minutes (8:20 p.m.)
> NASA test director conducts final launch team briefings
> Complete inertial measurement unit preflight alignments
> Resume countdown at T-20 minutes (8:30 p.m.)
> Transition the orbiter's onboard computers to launch configuration 
> Start fuel cell thermal conditioning
> Close orbiter cabin vent valves
> Transition backup flight system to launch configuration
> Enter estimated 46-minute hold at T-9 minutes (8:41 p.m.)
> Launch director, Mission Management Team and NASA test director 
> conduct final polls for "go/no go" to launch
> Resume countdown at T-9 minutes (about 9:27 p.m.)
> Start automatic ground launch sequencer (T-9 minutes)
> Retract orbiter crew access arm (T-7:30)
> Start mission recorders (T-6:15)
> Start auxiliary power units (T-5)
> Arm solid rocket booster and external tank range safety safe and arm 
> devices (T-5)
> Start liquid oxygen drainback (T-4:55)
> Start orbiter aerosurface profile test (T-3:55)
> Start main engine gimbal profile test (T-3:30)
> Pressurize liquid oxygen tank (T-2:55)
> Begin retraction of the gaseous oxygen vent arm (T-2:55)
> Fuel cells to internal reactants (T-2:35)
> Pressurize liquid hydrogen tank (T-1:57)
> Deactivate bi-pod heaters (T-1:52)
> Deactivate solid rocket booster joint heaters (T-1)
> Orbiter transfers from ground to internal power (T-0:50 seconds)
> Ground launch sequencer go for auto sequence start (T-0:31 seconds)
> Booster gimbal profile (T-0:21 seconds)
> Ignition of three space shuttle main engines (T-6.6 seconds)
> Booster ignition and liftoff (T-0)
> Commander: Mark Polansky 
> Pilot: Bill Oefelein
> Mission Specialist (MS1): Nicholas Patrick
> Mission Specialist (MS2): Bob Curbeam
> Mission Specialist (MS3): Christer Fuglesang
> Mission Specialist (MS4): Joan Higginbotham
> Mission Specialist (MS5up): Sunita Williams
> Mission Specialist (MS5down): Thomas Reiter
> -end-
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