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NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-116


NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-116

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

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7:05 p.m. - During its inspection earlier in the countdown, the Ice 
Inspection Team found a very small piece of ice at the end of the 
northern-most vent of the two vents that carry the gaseous oxygen away 
from the external fuel tank's beanie cap. The vents are the two large 
white pipes emanating vapors near the top of the tank. The issue is 
being reviewed by mission managers and we'll let you know when we hear more.

7:04 p.m. - With the entire crew now seated inside Discovery, another 
countdown milestone has passed.

7:00 p.m. - At T-1 hour, 39 minutes and counting, all is progressing 
well toward our liftoff at 9:35 p.m. Air to ground voice checks are 
continuing between the crew and the mission managers in the Firing Room. 
Cabin closeouts will begin once all seven astronauts are seated.

6:52 p.m. - There is still quite a bit of discussion about weather here 
at Kennedy tonight. Not only do launch managers have to ensure a safe 
launch, they also must make sure weather is safe in the unlikely event 
of a return-to-launch-site abort.

6:50 p.m. - The Ground Launch Sequencer has been activated and the 
Vehicle Assembly Building doors are being closed in anticipation of 
liftoff. One of the world's largest buildings by volume, the cavernous 
assembly facility covers a ground area of about eight acres and has a 
volume of approximately 129,482,000 cubic feet.

6:49 p.m. - The two solid rocket booster recovery ships 
Freedom Star and Liberty Star, are on station in the Atlantic Ocean 
about 140 miles northeast of Kennedy Space Center off the coast of 
Jacksonville, Fla.

The ships will retrieve the boosters and return them back to the Cape in 
preparation for their trip by train to Utah, where they'll be readied 
for a future shuttle launch.

6:42 p.m. - As astronaut Bob Curbeam finishes getting ready to enter the 
orbiter, he's holding up signs for the TV camera inside the White Room. 
The first read "Go Colts," referring to the Indianapolis Colts football 
team. The second sign read "Hi Eva."

6:34 p.m. - Joan Higginbotham 
and Robert Curbeam 
will be the last two crew members to enter the orbiter.

6:30 p.m. - Earlier this afternoon, the crew module was configured by 
the Astronaut Support Personnel. Known as the "Cape Crusaders," they 
helped prepare the orbiter for launch today. For this mission, the team 
is composed of astronaut Barry (Butch) Wilmore 
who is serving as Prime, and astronauts Michael (Bueno) Good 
Kathryn (Kay) Hire 
Jose Hernandez 
and Robert Behnken 

6:28 p.m. - Next up is Nicholas Patrick 
serving as Mission Specialist 1.

6:25 p.m. - As the crew members are seated inside Discovery's crew 
module, they perform voice checks with the launch team in the Launch 
Control Center here at Kennedy, as well as Mission Control at Johnson 
Space Center in Houston.

6:24 p.m. - Weather update: The latest forecast eliminates the chance of 
rain showers, but low cloud ceilings continues to pose a concern. The 
countdown is going very well otherwise, and the launch team will press 
on in hopes that the weather will improve as we approach the 9:35 launch 

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.
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