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Atlantis Expected to Launch Today 104

PreacherTom writes "Following recent delays, NASA makes its fifth attempt to get Atlantis off the launchpad at 11:15 a.m. EDT today. NASA stopped Friday's launch try only 45 minutes before its scheduled departure for a faulty fuel tank sensor: the same glitch that thwarted two previous missions. The launch delay cost NASA $616,000, and if the mission is scrubbed again, the space agency must abandon for a few weeks its efforts to send the shuttle off on a construction mission to the International Space Station."
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Atlantis Expected to Launch Today

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  • Gone (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:23AM (#16071594) Homepage
    I just watched it launch.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sharkman67 ( 548107 )
      Yup,

      Looks like a perfect launch. Just saw the main fuel tank seperate. Godspeed astronauts!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, sort of. I'm in the LA area - and only NBC gave even half-assed coverage of the launch (breaking away for a *very* short period, from an unbelievably moromic show for brain-damaged three year olds). All I caught of the launch was the solid rocket boosters falling away, and a few seconds more, before NBC went back to their normal programing. Of course, the awful NBC coverage was just *slightly* better than the coverage offered by the other area broadcasters in the area (who didn't cover the event AT
      • NASA TV always has it available. www.nasa.gov and it's a link on the main page. You need RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. It streams the whole thing including the Mission Control guy's narration.

        • You can watch in Quicktime too,
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MurphyZero ( 717692 )
          I get NASA TV and 2 or 3 local channels ALWAYS cover Shuttle launches. Hmmm, probably because I live maybe 15 miles from the pad. Why watch it on TV when you can just walk outside and watch it?
        • including the Mission Control guy's narration

          I think that guy should be fired (no offense to him personally). It's starting to sound like an advertisement. Put descriptive text at the bottom of the screen and let everyone watch the show. It doesn't need narration, as spectacular things are trivialized when some moron does "on-the-scene"-type reporting.

          Remember "go at throttle up"?
      • by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:02AM (#16071715) Homepage
        That's a shame. I watch the whole thing on CBC Newsworld. Odd that foreign countries are more interested in the space programs than America.
        • by afd8856 ( 700296 )
          Envy, of course. (/me is 'foreigner')
          • by jthill ( 303417 )
            <smirk> I see you've got all the karma you need. Here's a little kudos to go with it :-)
        • I'm in Australia, and a huge follower of spaceflight and the ISS construction. The launch was a quarter past twelve in the morning, local time. I was watching it via streamed NASA TV for a couple hours beforehand. And I did the same thing Friday night until the launch was scrubbed. So yes, we in the rest of the world (ie. the unimportant bit outside the east and west coasts of North America) are definately interested in all this stuff, it's a pity you guys don't spend more money and resources on national t
          • I live in Washington, DC. If I had a dime for everytime I heard someone say "I never visit the museums, the monuments, etc..." I'd be a billionaire. And the museums here are free. Not free as in "we're going to make you feel guilty at the door". No. Really Free. Nobody bothers you at all, except that now there are metal detectors.

            Anyway, I think that when something is right in your own backyard, (sort of), there is a tendancy to not appreciate it. Here in the US, there are a lot of people that pay

      • TV channels have schedules. Shuttle launches don't. You can't expect them to dedicate a day's programming to an event that they don't know when is going to happen, or whether it's going to happen at all. If it does happen, you can't expect them to disrupt their normal programming because it's not that important an event.

        The only times programming should be interrupted is acts of terrorism or large natural disasters, not expensive scientific experiments. There are things happening all over the world that hav
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ultranova ( 717540 )

          The only times programming should be interrupted is acts of terrorism or large natural disasters, not expensive scientific experiments.

          Why ? The chances are that if you didn't already know about it, then neither will affect you directly in any way. There's no reason why either should get immediate coverage. Besides, terrorism thrives on attention; interrupting the programming for it is a great way of helping terrorists spread terror.

          The best response for terrorism is to continue the programming as nor

          • Besides, terrorism thrives on attention; interrupting the programming for it is a great way of helping terrorists spread terror.

            Exactly.
      • by slim-t ( 578136 )
        You must not have cable. It was on C-Span and CNN.
        • by 3waygeek ( 58990 )
          Not to mention HDNet [hd.net]; they have a contract with NASA to cover all shuttle launches through 2010. They provided 5 hours of coverage today, and about 4 hours of coverage leading up to Friday's aborted launch.
      • I saw it on CNN, they did live coverage of the last 30 seconds of countdown and the whole liftoff, launch and booster separation procedure. Total time about 5 minutes. :)
  • according to the clock on the nasa site in 9 minutes we have lift off. god speed.
  • It's launched, tank's seperated, Atlantis is in space.
  • Just thought I would let everyone know that it launched already.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:26AM (#16071604) Journal
    They found a working ZPM?

    I don't even like the show that much, but to me, Atlantis == Stargate, especially when I'm just waking up.
    • They've had one for over a year now, but they've never actually used their stardrive to date.
    • No, they had Sheppard stand at the bottom, and through his amazing Kirk!God!MarySue!ness, he singlehandedly pushed the shuttle into orbit. Ronan pulled 56,234,980,458 knives from his hair and threw them at the satellites in the way, McKay provided the necessary trajectories, and Teyla bared her midriff. All the while Weir stood there in Mission Control and did... absolutely nothing. Lorne was nowhere to be found.
  • OK, I'll admit I don't understand how that cost is calculated.

    Was that money spent on things it wouldn't otherwise have been spent on? IE, is it a marginal cost or just that day's "share" of a fixed cost? Did it have to get taken from some other budget (either within NASA or not)?

    NASA accounting always confuses me.

    • Re:Cost? (Score:4, Informative)

      by p_trekkie ( 597206 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:49AM (#16071681) Homepage
      You mean the delay cost of $500,000 or so? That number is suspiciously similar to the cost of the fuel/launch, so my guess is that's what they had to pay to empty the shuttle, then fill it again. That amount of money is also accounted for in NASA as a "rouding error." In my aerospace classes, they always told us that for cost accounting, fuel is "free."
      • by evanbd ( 210358 )
        Yes, that's what I meant.

        I suppose it could well be difficult to pump out the LH2 and actually recover enough of it to be relevant... that stuff is *really* hard to handle.

        Now, to be fair, it's not (entirely) unreasonable to ignore the LOX costs... NASA pays a few pennies a pound for it, and it's worlds easier to handle.

      • Re:Cost? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cyclone96 ( 129449 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:39AM (#16071796)
        At best, it's a very rough estimate indeed. I don't understand why every story about a launch delay seems to have to include "it cost $XXX" for the delay. They do the same thing for landings at Edwards (which requires transporting the orbiter back to KSC on the NASA 747). Those costs are expected and budgeted for, and in the overall scheme of things - quite small.

        While we are at it, the genius that wrote the article also included the following:

        If Atlantis cannot lift off on Saturday, it will have to wait at least until late September and even then, NASA will have to waive a post-Sept. 11 rule that says launches must be conducted in daylight so that the spaceship can be photographed for signs of damage.

        Post Sept. 11? WTF? That's post COLUMBIA ACCIDENT rule. Wow, that's really bad. Evidentally the news drone at ABC churning out web stories must have been working on a Sept. 11 anniversary piece about the same time and mixed up his disasters....
    • Don't forget that when they schedule a launch, there are a lot of people on the clock that are working longer hours than they might otherwise be. When there's a delay, they've all been on the clock for a long time, and then get to do it again (for example) the next day. Likewise with various contractors, support companies, etc. Keeping all of that spun up and ready is expensive, per day.
  • It went ok. (Score:4, Informative)

    by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:30AM (#16071622)
    The launch went ok, only one issue with a support system for engine cooling (they were assuming there was water in it.) they cycled it and it's working fine. So it's all good for now.
  • hopefully the flash evaporator problems they were reporting (which have since been cleared to my knowledge) dont flare up again either in orbit or re-entry overall a good launch, i still love the views from the external tank looking down and at the shuttle
  • huh ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by terrymr ( 316118 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rmyrret>> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:31AM (#16071631)
    -10 Timing.
  • Cheesy, but true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bgfay ( 5362 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:32AM (#16071632) Homepage
    I just sat at my laptop watching NASA TV (we don't have cable) with my four-year-old and two-year-old explaining as much of the activity as I knew. They got excited and kept gushing "wow!" just at the sight of the shuttle on the pad. When it lifted off, they were both quiet, eyes wide and mouths open. I caught myself with my own mouth open both at the wonder of us going into space and the equally powerful wonder of watching my daughters get this excited about it.

    When someone asks me why we have to spend so much money on space exploration, I should have them watch a launch with my daughters. It's all about the thrill of exploration, the daring of it, the wonder of fellow humans climbing up off this planet and touching the stars.

    I can't wait to see what we do next.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by avalys ( 221114 )
      And why should the government be spending our tax dollars on "the thrill of exploration, the daring of it" and all that? The government's job is not to entertain and amaze us, which seems to be the only purpose of the manned space program. And hell, recently they've failed even at that, instead causing us to gape in amazement at their lax engineering practices.

      I'm all for private space exploration, and I can see the justification for government-funded unmanned space exploration, but the government has no
      • by terrymr ( 316118 ) *
        See I thought the sole purpose of Entertain and Amaze us. If not why do we have the one we have ?
        • What do you mean by "we," sir? Are you even from this country? From the likes of your terrible grammar, it appears you can't speak English. Then again, neither can half this country. God damnit!
          • by terrymr ( 316118 ) *
            Ok - I meant See I thought the sole purpose of government *is* to Entertain and Amaze us. If not why do we have the one we have ?

            Don't confuse grammer with typing errors.
      • by jthill ( 303417 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:51AM (#16071835)
        And why should the government be spending our tax dollars on "the thrill of exploration, the daring of it" and all that?
        Because some things that nobody can make any money at are worth doing anyway? Because some of those are beyond the capacity of private enterprise? Because some of those actually produce benefits that would otherwise never be reached?
        • by bark ( 582535 )
          I don't think space travel is beyond the capacity of private enterprise... In fact, private enterprise stands to benefit more, make more money, and produce more benefits from space travel than the public sector.

          Face it, it only reason "space exploration" is government territory is that the USA wants to turn space into the future battleground. It's more for military reasons than for any of those you listed.
          • by jthill ( 303417 )

            I don't think space travel is beyond the capacity of private enterprise

            "Exploration" is not the same as "travel". The topic is "exploration".

            I'm fairly sure the people at JPL will be very surprised to learn their missions are really reconnaissance for the military invasions of Mars and Titan and Wild 2.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bgfay ( 5362 )
        My naive answer for the day as to why the government should pay for this sort of thing is that the job of government is to lead. Sometimes leadership requires that we inspire people. The manned space program, even with all its faults, inspires people.
      • North America would be a very different place today if certain governments hadn't decided that exploration was very much part of their job.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by linzeal ( 197905 )
      See if you can do it yourself, orbiter [ucl.ac.uk] is a free space flight simulator and there are others [amazon.com] less technical but most are out of print since the late 90's.
    • Space has a terrible power.
    • Oh wow! That is so cool, man. It's awesome that you spend that kind of time with them and exposing them to that awesome tech stuff! :) And reading your writing of their reaction... that actually gave me a few chill bumps :) That is amazing. I don't have any little critters of my own, so I can't relate to your experience. But if what I imagine is anywhere close to what you had, then.... wow. That is super super awesome!

      I wonder if, in their minds, they may have thought of the shuttle on-pad as a 'toy'
      • by bgfay ( 5362 )
        Actually, they don't think of it as a toy so much as a space ship. Some magical device like out of a cartoon.

        My older daughter asked, "are there people on there?" I told her that there were. She said, "it must be cool to ride on a space ship." Yeah, I told her, I imagine it is. "I hope I get to go on that ride someday." I remember hoping the same thing. I hope that she gets the chance without having to come up with the current price of a ticket.
    • Cynical, but true (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 )

      When someone asks me why we have to spend so much money on space exploration, I should have them watch a launch with my daughters. It's all about the thrill of exploration, the daring of it, the wonder of fellow humans climbing up off this planet and touching the stars.

      Um...not to be cynical, and Slashdotters hate being reminded of these things, but your daughters are in awe because they don't know that:

      • It costs $16BN a year to keep NASA running of which $3BN is political pork [usatoday.com], and a fair bit goes tow
      • by topical_surfactant ( 906185 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:43AM (#16071810)
        Then, of course, there's the argument that if we don't get off this rock and colonize other (planets, moons), some day those problems you just mentioned will seem trivial compared to the immenent extinction of the human race. Just sayin'.
        • Then, of course, there's the argument that if we don't get off this rock and colonize other (planets, moons), some day those problems you just mentioned will seem trivial compared to the immenent extinction of the human race. Just sayin'.

          Here are some questions for you:

          • There are currently 5.8 billion people on the planet. I hope you have a lot of rocket ships, because even a hundredth of a percent of that number is half a million people.
          • The earth has air, food, and water. Where do you think those thr
          • I suggested preserving the human race, not evacuating the damn planet.

            As for liveable conditions, find a solar system body with water, and establish an underground colony. Not easy, not cheap, but possible without terraforming.

            Let me know when you've got a working plan to save the environment (how many decades just to slow down our current rate of consumption of nonrenewables?), gramps, and we can discuss this again.

            I'm sick of this cynical old-fartism.
      • by bgfay ( 5362 )
        Whoever modded this reply as a troll is way off base. I admitted that my post was the sunny side of the street. This is the other side and we need to keep both of them in mind.

        Reminds me of current United States politics, the you're with us or you're against us philosophy. What we need is civil discourse and SuperBanana's post is just that.

        Mod it up.
        • I agree that the post shouldn't be lost to below modded threshold, though I disagree with the points in the content of the post. I responded to them below. Posts like this one are why I browse with +5 to Troll. Aside from missing some truly funny posts that get modded Troll, the Slashdot groupthink beats down any that pose an alternate view to a popular opinion.

          I have no idea if the poster was really trolling or not, but when something is modded Troll, people are less likely to respond with a thought o

        • You're right...it shouldn't have been mod'ed as troll... it should have been modded as "overrated" but only because slashdot doesn't have a "-1 inaccruate" or "-1 ignorant".
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bgfay ( 5362 )
        This post keeps getting modded down even though it's rational, well thought out, and well written. Just because I see things differently today doesn't mean I don't want to hear opposition. Here is the post in its entirety:

        When someone asks me why we have to spend so much money on space exploration, I should have them watch a launch with my daughters. It's all about the thrill of exploration, the daring of it, the wonder of fellow humans climbing up off this planet and touching the stars.

        Um...not to be cynic
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        OK, I have to weigh in here.

        It costs $16BN a year to keep NASA running

        And it costs $129BN a year to run the Department of Agriculture.
        And the US government spent $71BN for the Department of Education (mind you, the federal government operates ZERO schools)


        One in five of their classmates go hungry at home or at school because their parents can't afford to give them enough food,

        The National School Lunch Program spent $7.1 billion in FY 2003. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Lunch/AboutLunch/NSLP F ac [usda.gov]
      • Re:Cynical, but true (Score:5, Informative)

        by cptgrudge ( 177113 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [egdurgtpc]> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @01:26PM (#16072111) Journal

        I'm going to be cynical of your post here, troll, just FYI. There's a reason I view at +5 to Troll, and not just because some of them are funny. Someone might read your points and accept them at face value if there is no counter. Unlikely, but I will address them. Mods, give the parent +1 Underrated. A true +5 Troll is rare, and the points should be addressed, not lost below threshold.

        It costs $16BN a year to keep NASA running of which $3BN is political pork, and a fair bit goes towards research which is primarily for the purposes of weapons and has nothing to do with the "quest for knowledge".

        Yes, $16 billion dollars is a Big number. But the total 2007 budget for the US Government is 2.77 trillion. NASA's budget is a bit under 0.6% of the total. That is nothing. The pork contained in the budget is not just NASA's problem, but is a problem across the entire US Gov budget. Fix it there. Now, can you list the research items contained in NASA's budget that go toward the sole purpose of weapons? I need sources. Besides, you can turn anything into a weapon if you try hard enough. I can give you many examples that have helped in our "quest for knowledge" if you want them.

        The ISS, which this mission supports, is falling apart after just a few years in space. It was supposed to last JUST 10 years after final assembly, and it hasn't even been fully assembled. Failures have ranged from oxygen generators to basic handtools to attitude correction gyros. The price tag was $100BN; that money largely went to our nation's (and other nation's) defense contractors, which build the majority of the hardware NASA uses.

        Falling apart? Sources please. As far as I know, the ISS is not falling from the sky, but has been manned and operational (albeit with a reduced crew), and construction is now moving forward. Individual component failures are not unexpected. Space is hard. People seem to have this idea that we just pop up there every once in a while, hang around for a few weeks, and come back down. We're escaping our planet's gravity well, and building a huge complex outside of it in a harsh environment. This environment is a hard vacuum, filled with radiation, and has no gravity. It's like building a cruise ship in the middle of a choppy ocean, without a dock or support, only little boats. You're upset about some repairable component failures? As to the price tag...so what? 100 billion spread out over the project timeline isn't that much. What does it matter which companies got the contract to build it, as long as it is completed to spec? It isn't like these "defense contractors" are pure evil; they employ people that build things.

        The "smoke" from the solid rocket engines contains huge amounts of hydrochloric acid.

        I'll give you this one. Yes, it sucks. But in the larger picture, the damage it is doing is nothing compared to the current global levels of pollution. If there was a feasible method that involved zero pollution, I'm sure we would use it. The simple fact is, any fuel we have right now that provides enough thrust to escape the gravity of Earth will give off some pollution. We'll never be able to find cleaner alternatives if we don't do this research in the first place. This actually is rocket science. (Hey, at least we don't use an Orion Drive, which is theoretically cheap by comparison, but gives off a bunch of nuclear fallout, right?)

        One in five of their classmates go hungry at home or at school because their parents can't afford to give them enough food, and the government currently spends slightly more than NASA's budget to feed 7 million children a year a decent lunch. Let's not even get started about basic supply and book shortages. We're supposedly the most powerful nation in the world, but we can't but enough [food in the stomachs / textbooks in the hands] of our children so that they can recieve a sufficient education to support themselves later in life, i

    • They probably have the same reaction to watching cartoons, and they're probably cheaper to make.

      I can't think of any legitimate reasoning for docking people's hard-earned wages in order to entertain your children with giant fireworks.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      I can hire someone to draw a cartoon that will out-awe NASA with your daughters, and I bet I can do it for less money.

      Impressing people isn't why we passed the 16th Amendment. There may be good reasons to spend everyone's money without asking them what they want, on expensive manned space launches (I hesitate to call it "exploration") but as much as your kids enjoyed watching it, that ain't one of them.

  • Liftoff! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eosha ( 242724 ) <esomas@hotmCOBOLail.com minus language> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:47AM (#16071671) Homepage
    She made it into orbit successfully. Liftoff was at 11:14:55 Eastern time.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/launch/i ndex.html [nasa.gov]
  • Ok I don't get it. The "delay" caused that? Or do they mean that is the costs that arose to "diagnose/fix" the faults detected? I mean, there is a big difference here. They would have had to "fix" the problem no matter what or just scrap the shuttle, so how does that money become the "costs of the delay", when it is really "the costs for maintaining the shuttle"?
  • Thank goodness it succeeded because if it didn't, space development would be halted for dozens of years because of stupid, useless, braindead politicians in charge of a budget almost as large as their ignorance and folly.
  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#16071689) Homepage
    Posted by CowboyNeal on 09-09-06 11:22 AM
    NASA makes its fifth attempt to get Atlantis off the launchpad at 11:15 a.m. EDT today.
  • Launched? (Score:2, Funny)

    by lorg ( 578246 )
    Why didn't they just use the Stargate? Flying to Atlantis is going to take A LONG LONG time!
  • It always amazes me how fast the shuttle gets up into space, and how quickly it reaches amazing speeds.

    So, I guess the question is "How fast can Atlantis make the Kessel Run?" My gues is at least 30 parsecs.
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:20AM (#16071749) Homepage Journal
    "Following recent delays, CowboyNeal makes its Nth attempt to get a timely Atlantis story off the launchpad before it goes stale. He missed Wednesday's news [slashdot.org] by almost 2 days and will try to get the announcement of Saturdays launch posted on time. The delay costs CowboyNeal 3 karma points, and if he misses the mark again, the Space Cowboy must abandon editing few weeks while he lets his karma recover.
    UPDATED: Sat 11:22AM: He missed the mark.... Again."
  • I always hope my tax money, that huge amount sent to the giant black hole, bought at least a bolt on the shuttle, or a tile (good one), or for one of the engineers, or even the guy who cuts the lawn outside Mission Control. I'm always afraid it paid for Karl Rove's expense account, though.
    • by syrinx ( 106469 )
      I do a lot of work for the government, so possibly it went to my paycheck.

      Thanks! :P
    • I hope so too!

      Whenever we've hired a new guy (I work for the US government), one of the first things I point out to them is:

      - Your typical government engineer costs the government ~$200K to employ.
      - Your typical engineer may be paying ~$10,000 in federal income tax.

      In other words, the tax burden of 20 people just like them is going to keep them employed for the public good. Please make as good of use of their money as you hope other folks are doing with yours.
  • It took off over 5 hours ago..
  • For those who hates streaming video, here is a 14 MB MP4 [nasa.gov] one that can be downloaded.

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