STS-109 Mission Journal  

STS-109 Mission Journal - Part 1

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NASA photo of Columbia waiting for launch. Shuttle Columbia returns to space on mission STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope!

STS-109 Mission Patch. NASA image.

LEFT: Shuttle Columbia on the launchpad.
RIGHT: Mission Patch.

For reports from Launch Day (March 1st) through the last EVA (March 8th), see Part 2 of our Mission Journal.
For reports from Hubble release to landing, see Part 3.


  • 27 February 2002 - Evening Update - Columbia's liftoff has been pushed back from Thursday to Friday, when weather conditions should be in the 80% acceptable range. NASA reports:

    Cold Weather Forces 24-Hour Launch Delay for Columbia
    The threat of cold weather at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., has forced shuttle managers to delay the launch of STS-109 by 24 hours. Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven-member crew are now scheduled to lift off at 5:22 a.m. CST [6:22AM EST/1122 GMT] Friday.
    Managers determined that Thursday's forecasted launch-time temperature, 3.3 degrees Celsius (38 degrees Fahrenheit), was at the margin of the acceptable limit in combination with the predicted wind speed and relative humidity. Friday morning's forecast calls for warmer temperatures at the time of launch.

    There is a new concern besides the weather. The wheel bearings in Columbia's landing gear are supposed to be heat-treated to withstand a temperature of 500 degrees on landing, but records show that some of the ones installed were only tested to 300 degrees. If engineers to not clear the new bearings for flight, they will have to be swapped out - and that means a rollback to the Vehicle Assembly Building, and a long launch delay.

  • 27 February 2002 - SCRUB! Predicted low temperatures at the launch complex have prompted NASA managers to postpone tomorrow's launch until Friday morning. NASA reports:

    Shuttle Launch Scrubbed for 24 Hours
    NASA managers decided Wednesday to delay the launch of Space Shuttle mission STS-109 until Friday because of weather. The combination of expected low temperatures, winds and humidity would have pushed the launch environment to the limit of safe conditions. Friday's launch attempt is set for [6:22AM EST/1122 GMT].
    The flight will be the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. During this 11-day mission the crew will take five walks in space. They will add the Advanced Camera for Surveys to Hubble’s complement of scientific instruments, enhancing the telescope's imaging capability by a factor of 10. They will also replace the solar arrays with a more efficient model. Liftoff will be carried live on NASA Television and NASA TV on the Web.

    Cryogenic loading of the large external tank was scheduled to start shortly before 10PM EST today.


  • 26 February 2002 - The countdown continues, but weather at KSC is still a concern. NASA reports:

    Final Mission Preparations for Shuttle Crew
    NASA photo of Space Shuttle Columbia. Additional inspections and fuel cell servicing continue on Space Shuttle Columbia as the countdown continues toward a planned launch of STS-109 on Thursday morning.
    The shuttle crewmembers, now at Kennedy Space Center, are adjusting to their new shifts, undergoing medical checks and performing final mission preparations. The shuttle commander and pilot practiced their flying skills making a 1˝ hour flight aboard the Shuttle Training Aircraft.
    With the weather expected to be cold with scattered clouds, forecasters are now predicting a 60 percent chance for a Thursday launch of the STS-109 Hubble Servicing Mission.

    This flight marks the return of Columbia to the Orbiter fleet after a long overhaul. Of the four-ship fleet, Columbia is the heaviest, and has been unable to reach a high-enough orbit to travel to the International Space Station up to now - but the improvements made at Boeing's Palmdale, CA facility may allow limited missions to the Station. For now, Columbia, the oldest (but in many ways the newest) will stay closer to home with science missions and flights like Hubble Servicing. With 5 EVAs planned (including a risky power-down of the HST), STS-109 promises to be an exciting mission.



  • 22 February 2002 - The countdown starts Monday for Shuttle Columbia's flight to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA reports:

    Countdown Begins Monday
    Preparations for the launch of STS-109, the fourth Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission, continue to proceed at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Workers have completed the Hubble payload Interface Verification Test with Space Shuttle Columbia.
    NASA image of STS-109 crewOver the weekend, workers will continue preparations to close up Columbia's engine compartment.
    The STS-109 flight crew is slated to arrive at Kennedy early Monday morning and then participate in final payload familiarization operations. The launch countdown is set to begin at the T minus 43-hour mark at 9 a.m. CST [10AM EST/1500 GMT]. Columbia and its seven-member crew are targeted to lift off at 5:48 a.m. CST [6:48AM EST/1148 GMT] Thursday. The crew will conduct five space walks to perform the Hubble servicing work.

    Preflight images and video clips are now available in the NASA Gallery.

    Stay tuned...


STS-109 Links...


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