Or watch NASA’s video here

1453h With a smooth countdown Atlantis launched on time and sped into a bright blue clear sky here at KSC. Video wil be uploaded soon

credit: NASA tv1439h T-9min countdown has started

1435h NASA is now reporting only a 40% chance that weather will prohibit launch. The countdown is currently held at T-9min

1327h T-25min to launch. At T-20min there will be a 10min hold

1314h Mission control just gave 1445h 30s as the exact launch time

1300h The hatch is closed and latched and a cabin leak test is underway. Sitting here in Kennedy Space Center’s news center annex for foreign media with the bright, bright sunshine outside it seems extremely unlikely that Atlantis is not going to launch today

credit: NASA tv

1246h Mission control is saying that Weather officer Kathy Winters has reported that the percentage chance of weather prohibiting launch has dropped from 70% to 60%

1216 The crew are being helped into their seats in the orbiter

credit: NASA tv

1215 mission control is saying that the vehicle is in such good condition and the weather so fair that if they could launch now, they could; but there is still another 2h 25min to go before the 10min launch window opens at 1440h

1203h T-1h 49min to lift off, not including countdown holds

1144h In this picture below German born ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel can be seen preparing to enter the orbiter Atlantis as all the astronauts are boarding the spaceship. His ESA colleague Leopold Eyharts has already boarded

credit: NASA tv

1123h The crew whizzes past in their “spacevan” on the way to launch pad 39A. The Shuttle inspection team has finished their job and everything is still go for launch, bar the weather


However earlier life was a bit more tense. “Stop!”, I heard as I began to step into the road, to cross from the right hand side of this picture, up by the traffic lights, to get to the left side to go back to the news center. A security guy with a big orange top emblazoned with the word SECURITY wasn’t about to let me cross. “You can’t cross” a slim short woman told me, standing back from the edge of the road, I had wondered why they were standing there, “the crew van is coming”, she added. The security guard piped up from across the street, “The van is coming! You’ll have to wait 10min”. I looked to the right up the street and to the left, down the street towards launch pad 39A. Not a sole, not a single car. No one. It is very, very hot out here and I am having to stand on the kerb because in 10min a van with seven astronauts in it will whizz by. Fortunately this bizarre state of affairs didn’t last long. “My lieutenant told me no one could cross,” came the explanation. Well there you go then, that makes everything OK…


1019h ESA has circulated a series of pictures of Atlantis on the pad very early this morning and one really nice shot of launch complex 39A at sunrise

credit: ESA

1005h There is 48min left in the current countdown hold and in 15min the astronauts will begin suiting up. A weather update is also expected around then

credit: NASA tv

0955h Inspection of the Shuttle is going well. A concern now is weather at the US continental ascent orbit landing sites while a cross wind threat has diminished

0927h Well that all took longer than expected, thanks to a rather late NASA transfer bus. Still, NASA is reporting that everything is OK and only the weather could prohibit launch

It is about 5h 15min before launch but officially the countdown is held at T-3h

credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

0710h No reports of any progress or problems with the ECO sensors. I am now leaving my hotel for Kennedy Space Center

0655h ECO sensors are functioning still and automatic tests of the external tank/fuelling system, once it is deemed full, is considered the next hurdle

0646h The ET is 30% full of LOX and LH2, ECO sensor system is continuing under test with various potential failure modes being investigated

The ECO sensors will be watched for glitches up to T-9min

Launch is scheduled for 1445h

0640h Still no answer on the ECO testing results, LOX and LH2 fuelling is way past the 25% fill point and past the time when the ECO sensor went wrong back in December 2006

From 0710h to 0830h I will be in transit to Kennedy Space Center

0624h ECO sensor testing is expected to have an answer in 20min, and then we’ll know if Atlantis really is go or not

0607h ECO sensor testing is yet to begin. The failure of an ECO sensor saw the December 2006 launch abandoned so whether there is a launch today could all hinge on what happens next

0556h Engine Cut Off (ECO) sensors just went wet!

0525h KSC: The 10min chilldown process for tanking, the filling of the Space Shuttle external propellant tank (ET) with its cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX), has begun following a NASA mission management team meeting that saw no technical issues in the way of launch but still, officially, has weather issues. The countdown has restarted after a 2h hold as well

I heard last night that weather is much less of a problem now and launch control, via NASA tv, at 5h 51min on countdown, has just said that weather is less of a problem and that cloud breaks could see the orbiter launch. After chill down the hydrogen will be pumped into the ET and at around 0600h the LOX will be fed into the tank