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NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-116



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/.C #31468
   
LAUNCH COVERAGE   
NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-116

TIMES ARE EASTERN STANDARD TIMES
NASA's launch blog was activated on December 7, 2006 at 3:25 p.m. EST

+ View All Launch Day Videos


6:19 p.m. - Pilot William Oefelein is the next to enter the orbiter. He 
will be followed by Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang of the European 
Space Agency.

6:17 p.m. - The next crew member to board is Sunita Williams, who is 
Mission Specialist 5. She'll be staying behind to serve as Flight 
Engineer on the International Space Station when the STS-116 crew 
returns to Earth later this month.

6:12 p.m. - As each crew member is suited for entry, orange glow sticks 
are tucked into the shoulder pockets on their upper sleeves. Like the 
orange suits, the glow sticks are intended to give the astronauts a 
means of identifying their locations in the unlikely event of an 
emergency landing in darkness.

6:10 p.m. - The astronauts have specific seating designations for each 
launch. Often the seating assignments are changed for descent. There is 
room for up to four seats in the middeck. As Commander, Mark Polansky 
will be the first astronaut to board. He will have the forward-left seat 
on the flight deck.

6:07 p.m. - The STS-116 crew has arrived at Launch Pad 39B, where they 
are exiting the Astrovan and boarding the elevator of the Fixed Service 
Structure for the ride up to the 195-foot level. From here they will 
enter the climate-controlled White Room, make their final preparations 
and then board the shuttle.

5:54 p.m. - T-2 hours, 45 minutes and counting. Steve Lindsey was just 
dropped off at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Now the Astrovan will 
continue on to the Launch Control Center, where astronaut Ellen Ochoa, 
head of Flight Crew Operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 
Houston, will exit the van and join her co-workers in the Firing Room 
for the remainder of the countdown.

5:47 p.m. - The astronaut convoy is en route to Launch Pad 39B, a 
journey that typically takes 20-25 minutes. The "Astrovan" will make two 
stops. At one stop they'll let out astroanut Steve Lindsey, who will be 
heading to the Shuttle Landing Facility to scout out the weather for 
tonight's launch. The second stop is in front of the Launch Control 
Center before heading out to the pad.

Steve Lindsey, the weather pilot for this mission, will fly both a T-38 
and the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) at different times tonight, 
checking the conditions up to launch. The weather coordinator for this 
mission is astronaut Dominic Gorie.

5:45 p.m. - Right on time, the STS-116 crew just walked out of the 
Operations and Checkout building, cheered on by a crowd of employees.


5:40 p.m. - T-3 hours and counting. There are two remaining holds left 
in the count at T-20 minutes and T-9 minutes.

5:30 p.m. - In ten minutes, we'll come out of the T-3 hour built-in hold 
and the countdown will resume. Darkness is beginning to fall at Kennedy 
Space Center, and the xenon lights out at the launch pad have been 
turned on, bathing Discovery and the mobile launcher platform in a 
brilliant white glow.

*Did You Know?*
This is the first flight of a space shuttle with an Advanced Health 
Monitoring System installed. + Read More 
<http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/162182main_STS-116_Press_Kit.pdf>

5:19 p.m. - Kathy Winters 
<http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/biographies/winters.html>, 
launch weather officer, has given Launch Director Mike Leinbach the 
latest weather briefing. The winds have "gone red" -- out of limits -- 
but, in her words, they are only "bumping the constraint" and it is 
still possible that our weather could be clear enough to allow for 
launch later this evening.

5:09 p.m. - The weather seems to be improving, but it is still too close 
to call at the moment. The concerns at Kennedy are low cloud ceilings 
and showers in the launch area. Otherwise, the countdown is going rather 
well, with the forecast posing the only concern for now.

5:01 p.m. - In the astronaut crew quarters, the crew is receiving a 
weather briefing. It's still cloudy at the Florida spaceport, but with 
four-and-a-half hours left until launch, there is still time for the 
weather to become more cooperative.
----
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