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Shuttle Columbia Launch Status

Launch July 1, 1997 2:02:02 pm EST. Launch window was 2 hours 30 min.

On July 1, 1997 at 10:30am, the astronauts departed the O&C building for Launch Pad 39-A and arrived at 10:48am. USAF Weather forcasters and meteorologists with the Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston closely tracked KSC's weather. (Reference KSC Weather History 07/01/1997 1400).

The crew communications checks were performed at 12:17pm EST and the white room was given the go for to leave the flight deck and prepare for hatch closure. Countdown clock picked up at T-20 minute mark and counting at 13:20pm EST and the close out crew departed LC-39A. At 13:31 the countdown clock entered the hold at the T-9 minute mark. The only concern was a launch commit criteria violation for RTLS weather due to a patch of bad weather to the southwest. The mission management team decided to extend the hold at the T-9 minute mark to give time for the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) to take a closer look at the weather systems. At 12:52:07 all teams were given a go for launch and the count came out of the T-5 minute mark at 13:53:00. The gaseous Oxygen vent hood was retracted at T-2 minutes 57 seconds and counting. The crew was given the go to close and lock visors and T-0 occured at 14:02:02 EDT. SRB separation at 2 min 15 seconds and 31 miles downrange. SSME cutoff at 14:10:44 EDT. ET separation at 14:11:13 EDT.

Previously, on Monday, 6/30/97, hoping to preempt expected afternoon thunderstorms, NASA managers had decided to move in the launch time for Columbia by 47 minutes. The 2 1/2 hour launch window was at 2:37pm EST but was rescheduled to open at 1:50 p.m. The decision to launch early removed one end of mission daylight landing opportunity at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, but still allowed two daylight landing opportunities at KSC. The Rotating Service Structure was retracted to the launch position at about 8:30 p.m. and loading of the external tank with cryogenic propellants began at about 4:47 a.m. on July 1, 1997. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/30/1997).

Loading of the external tank with cryogenic propellants is scheduled to begin at about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. The astronauts will depart the crew quarters for the launch pad at 11:17 a.m. and begin boarding Columbia about a half hour later. The hatch will be closed and sealed at 1:07 p.m., leading to launch at 2:37 p.m. Air Force weather forecasters are currently indicating a 90 percent probability of weather prohibiting launch of Columbia on July 1. The concern is for thunderstorms and associated rain, wind and lightning. Given the possibility of severe weather during Tuesday's launch attempt, managers may elect to postpone the opening of the launch window by up to two hours. If this option is selected, the decision will be reached by late Monday afternoon. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/29/1997).
On Sunday, the launch pad was closed for a checkout of the firing chain and the Space Shuttle onboard ordnance systems. This was followed by the loading of cryogenic reactants into the onboard fuel cell storage tanks located beneath the payload bay. The fuel cells generate power for Columbia and the Microgravity Science Laboratory during the 16-day mission. The reactant loading started on schedule at 11 a.m. and because of the extended duration of the mission, it took approximately 12 hours to complete instead of the usual eight hours. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/29/1997).

On Saturday, 6/28/97, the countdown for the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia and the reflight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory began on schedule today at 3 p.m. EDT. The STS-94 astronauts arrived at the Shuttle Landing Facility in their T-38 jet trainers at 12:25 p.m. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/28/1997).

On Wednesday, 6/25/97, at the launch pad, ordnance installation was completed and testing of the pyrotechnic initiator controllers was underway. Work to close-out Columbia's aft compartment picked-up and continues through Friday. Installation of the fabricated "pyro can" assemblies at the orbiter's external tank attach points continued. Launch countdown preparations also continue with hypergolic propellant pressurization in work. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/25/1997)

On Friday, 6/20/97, loading of storable hypergolic propellants aboard Columbia continued. Tile installation work on the forward reaction control system was completed, with all 36 tiles bonded to the vehicle. Bond verification checks will begin after the loading of hypergolic propellants. In Columbia's aft compartment, work to install the fabricated "pyro can" assemblies at the orbiter's external tank attach points concludes Saturday. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/20/1997)

On Thursday, 6/19/97, following the STS-94 Flight Readiness Review, NASA managers announced July 1 as the official launch date for Columbia's reflight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory-1 mission. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/19/1997)

On Tuesday, 6/17/97, work to connect the orbiter's mid-body umbilical unit, used to load cryogenic reactants aboard the orbiter was completed and tile work on the forward reaction control system continued. Of the 36 tiles slated for replacement at the pad, 28 had been installed. The helium signature leak test was in work and loading of the storable hypergolic propellants aboard Columbia was scheduled for Thursday. Repair work to wiring in avionics bay No. 4 continues through Wednesday. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/17/1997)

On Friday, 6/13/97 The main engine flight readiness test was successfully completed. Work continued to replace 36 Thermal Protection System tiles on Columbia's forward Reaction Control System. Shuttle technicians raised the concern of possible cracked tiles during routine inspections of the FRCS. Evaluations of the FRCS tiles on the entire Shuttle fleet helped engineers decide to replace the tiles with stronger ones. Preparations began for the hypergolic propellant loading and repair work to wiring in avionics bay No. 4 resumed. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/13/1997)

On Tuesday, 6/10/97, in the VAB, Columbia is mated to the external tank and mating close-outs were in work. Rework on spliced wires in the Shuttle's avionics bay were underway and electrical evaluations of a controller check-out unit for auxiliary power unit No. 2 were also in work. NASA's plan to eventually use a super lightweight external fuel tank requires modification to an orbiter's tail service mast. Columbia's tail service mast underwent retraction tests over the weekend to assist engineers in that effort. Over the weekend, additional thermal protection tiles were removed from the orbiter's forward reaction control system. More than 30 suspect tiles have been removed because of cracks seen during recent inspections. Evaluations of the FRCS tiles on the other orbiters have resulted in the removal of several tiles from orbiters Discovery and Atlantis. Stronger tiles will replace those that were removed from each orbiter and the majority of Columbia's tile replacement work will be done at the pad. Managers are working on a plan to complete the tile work in time for the July 1 launch date. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/10/1997)

On Monday, 6/2/97, Columbia's payload bay doors were closed for flight and the following day technician wrapped up close-out work in the orbiter's aft compartment and performed some tile work on nose of the vehicle. Preparations were in work for the orbiter's move to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) targeted for 6/4/97 at about 11 a.m. The external tank and solid rocket boosters await Columbia in VAB high bay 1 for a hard mate to be completed on Thursday, 6/5/97. Once in the VAB, wiring work will continue in the Shuttle's avionics bay 4 and electrical check-outs of an auxiliary power unit will pick-up. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/03/1997)

On 5/29/97, inspections of Columbia's forward Reaction Control System (RCS) revealed cracks in several thermal protective tiles in that vicinity. Work to replace those tiles will be performed at the pad and have no impact on the roll out schedule. Due to additional wiring work in Columbia's cargo bay, close-outs continue in the orbiter's mid-body. The spacelab transfer tunnel is now scheduled for installation Friday 5/30/97 and Columbia's roll to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) will likely occur on June 5. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/30/1997)

On 5/23/97, ammonia servicing was complete. Heat shield installation continues through the night and the Water Spray Boiler servicing is in work. While working close-outs in Columbia's mid-body, technicians noted cracks in two fuse holders that are part of the orbiter's power distribution system. As a result, work to repair a power distribution assembly and replacement of a power controller assembly will begin this weekend. The additional work in the mid-body will likely delay the installation of the Spacelab transfer tunnel until next week. Managers are assessing what impact if any the additional work will have on remaining OPF milestones. No impact to the overall pad schedule is expected. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/23/1997)

On 5/20/97, heat shield installation continued as well as work to connect Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) fuel lines. Over the weekend, technicians noted a frayed pyrotechnic cable in the orbiter's cargo bay. Work continues in the orbiter's midbody to repair a frayed pyrotechnic cable. The Spacelab transfer tunnel will be installed on Friday. Payload technicians are troubleshooting a remote acquisition unit on Spacelab today. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/20/1997)

On 4/25/97, On Friday, Shuttle managers officially announced that Columbia would refly the shortened STS-83 mission in early July. For planning purposes, the reflight mission was internally called STS-83R but now has the official designation STS-94. Replacement of two thrusters on Columbia's forward reaction control system (FRCS) was completed. Electrical hook-up work continues on the FRCS in the Hypergol Maintenance Facility. The FRCS should return to the OPF in early May to be reinstalled on the orbiter. Postflight work on Columbia's auxiliary power units continues through Tuesday, 4/29/97. Spacelab reservicing activities also continue. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/28/1997)

On 4/25/97, thruster replacement work continued on Columbia's forward Reaction Control System (RCS) in the Hypergol Maintenace Facility. The forward RCS should return to the OPF in early May to be reinstalled on the orbiter. Postflight work on Columbia's Auxiliary Power Units (APU's) continues through Tuesday. Spacelab reservicing activities also continue. STS-83R booster stacking operations continue in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Right forward center segment mating activities are in work today. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/25/1997)

On 4/17/97, fuel cell No. 1 leak checks will conducted. Preparations continue for main engine removal on Friday 4/18/97 and Saturday 4/19/97. Forward reaction control system functional tests were completed 4/16/97 and FRCS removal is scheduled for 4/18/97. Removal of the Spacelab tunnel is in work and Spacelab reservicing will begin. In the VAB, the booster segments originally intended for use on STS-85 are being stacked for use on STS-83R. Work to mate the left forward center segment to the left aft center segment is scheduled for 4/17/97. The left forward segment should arrive in the VAB as well. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/17/1997)

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Author: Jim Dumoulin ( / NASA - Payload Operations
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Last Updated: Thursday July 17 08:03:01 EDT 1997(J.Dumoulin)

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