Space Shuttle Launch Schedule 2009: Discovery’s Timeline

UPDATE — Shuttle Launch Delay: What Happened and What’s Next

Space Shuttle Launch Schedule 2009The space shuttle Discovery is set to launch tonight — March 11, 2009 — at 9:20 p.m. EDT. After four weeks of delays, NASA says the shuttle is ready to lift off and head out on its two-week voyage to the International Space Station.

Read more about Discovery’s delays and what’s involved in this mission on our Shuttle Launch Live 2009 page. There, you’ll also find a live streaming Webcast of Discovery on the launch pad and during its launch.

Space Shuttle Launch Schedule 2009

As of Wednesday morning, the weather at the Kennedy Space Center is expected to cooperate with the launch — in fact, chances of “excellent conditions” are currently set at 90 percent. Weather is also predicted to stay good at the three overseas emergengy landing sites.

Assuming everything stays on track, here is the current space shuttle launch schedule for March 11, 2009:

Demate orbiter mid-body umbilical unit (3:30 a.m.)

Resume orbiter and ground support equipment closeouts

Resume countdown (7 a.m.)

Main engine avionics, pneumatics and controller checkout completed (7:30 a.m.)
Begin filling pad sound suppression system water tank (8 a.m.)
Pad sound suppression system water tank filling complete (11 a.m.)
Begin star tracker functional checks (2:50 p.m.)

Enter planned hold at T-11 hours for 13 hours, 7 minutes (3 p.m.)

Activate the orbiter’s communications systems (7:15 p.m.)

Launch Day – Wednesday, March 11

Move Rotating Service Structure to the park position (1 a.m.)
Perform ascent switch list
Fuel cell flow-through purge complete

Resume countdown at T-11 hours (4:55 a.m.)

Activate the orbiter’s fuel cells (6:05 a.m.)

Switch Discovery’s purge air to gaseous nitrogen (6:55 a.m.)

Enter planned 2-hour built-in hold at the T-6 hour mark (9:55 a.m.)

Clear the blast danger area of all nonessential personnel
Launch team verifies no violations of launch commit criteria prior to cryogenic loading of the external tank
Clear pad of all personnel

Resume countdown (11:55 a.m.)

Chill down propellant transfer lines (11:55 a.m.)
Begin loading the external fuel tank with about 500,000 gallons of cryogenic propellants (about 12:05 p.m.)

Enter planned 2-hour, 30-minute built-in hold at T-3 hours (2:55 p.m.)

Complete filling the external tank with its flight load of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants (about 2:55 p.m.)
Final Inspection Team proceeds to launch pad
Perform inertial measurement unit preflight calibration
Align Merritt Island Launch Area tracking antennas

Resume countdown at T-3 hours (5:25 p.m.)

Perform open loop test with Eastern Range
Crew departs Operations and Checkout Building for the pad (5:30 p.m.)
Complete closeout preparations in the White Room
Check cockpit switch configurations
Begin Eastern Range final network open loop command checks

Flight crew begins entry into the orbiter (6 p.m.)
Astronauts perform air-to-ground voice checks with Launch and Mission Control
Begin to close Discovery’s crew hatch (7:05 p.m.)

Perform hatch seal and cabin leak checks
Complete White Room closeout
Closeout crew moves to fallback area
Primary ascent guidance data is transferred to the backup flight system

Enter planned 10-minute hold at T-20 minutes (8:05 p.m.)

NASA test director conducts final launch team briefings

Resume countdown at T-20 minutes (8:15 p.m.)

Transition the orbiter’s onboard computers to launch configuration
Start fuel cell thermal conditioning
Close orbiter cabin vent valves
Transition backup flight system to launch configuration

Enter estimated 40-minute hold at T-9 minutes (8:26 p.m.)

Launch director, Mission Management Team and NASA test director conduct final polls for “go/no go” to launch

Resume countdown at T-9 minutes (9:11 p.m.)

Start automatic ground launch sequencer (T-9 minutes)
Retract orbiter crew access arm (T-7:30)
Start APU recorders (T-6:15)
Start auxiliary power units (T-5)
Terminate liquid oxygen replenish (T-4:55)
Start orbiter aerosurface profile test (T-3:55)
Start main engine gimbal profile test (T-3:30)
Pressurize liquid oxygen tank (T-2:55)
Begin retracting the gaseous oxygen vent arm (T-2:50)
Fuel cells to internal reactants (T-2:35)
Pressurize liquid hydrogen tank (T-1:57)
Deactivate bi-pod heaters (T-1:52)
Deactivate solid rocket booster joint heaters (T-0:50 seconds)
Orbiter transfers from ground to internal power (T-0:50 seconds)
Ground launch sequencer go for auto sequence start (T-0:31 seconds)
Booster gimbal profile (T-0:21 seconds)
Ignition of three space shuttle main engines (T-6.6 seconds)
Booster ignition and liftoff (T-0)

Shuttle Launch Live 2009: Watch Discovery Lift Off Here