STS -117 (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis ( OV -104 ) from NASA. It was the 118th Space Shuttle mission and the 28th flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. This 21 flight of a U.S. space shuttle to the International Space Station (ISS) transported the S3/S4-Struktur to the ISS.

The launch had to be postponed due to severe damage to the outer tank from mid-March to early June 2007.

  • 3.1 Reactivation of launch pad 39A
  • 3.2 Preparation of the orbiter
  • 3.3 Space Shuttle damaged by thunderstorm
  • 3.4 Repair of hail damage
  • 3.5 Expansion of main engines
  • 3.6 Anticipated crew changes
  • 3.7 Second trip to the launch pad
  • 3.8 Recent launch preparations
  • 4.1 Start
  • 4.2 Working on the ISS
  • 4.3 return
  • 4.4 Transfer to Florida


  • Frederick Sturckow ( third space flight), Commander
  • Lee Archambault ( first space flight), Pilot
  • James Reilly ( third space flight), Mission Specialist
  • John Olivas ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Patrick Forrester ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Steven Swanson ( first space flight), Mission Specialist

ISS crew Departure

ISS Expedition 16 15/ISS-Expedition

  • Clayton Anderson ( first space flight), flight engineer

ISS Crew Return

ISS Expedition 15 14/ISS-Expedition

  • Sunita Williams ( first space flight ), aircraft engineer

Mission overview

The launch was originally scheduled for 15 March 2007, but had to because of a severe hail storm that had damaged the shuttle to the tank and some of the heat protection tiles are moved. Due to the necessary repairs of the start could only take place on June 8, wherein the launch pad 39A was used for the first time in four years.

STS -117 brought the S3/S4-Element to the International Space Station. The component consists of the grating structure and the solar array S3 S4. The solar panels were deployed after installation. Moreover, the second wing of the P6 solar module has been run in order to bring it to its final position later.

For the planned work three spacewalks were planned originally. During the flight, however, a fourth exit has been added to repair damage to the orbiter.


Reactivation of the launch pad 39A

STS -117 was the first mission for over four years, which took place from the launch pad 39A. This was last used at the start of the STS-107 mission, which ended with the crash of the space shuttle Columbia and the death of the entire team.

The end of 2006 was begun, prepare the ramp again for the start operation. It was found that there was more damage than had been assumed. Therefore, a long time was not sure if Pad 39A would be ready for STS -117 in time. Had this not been the case, one could start from Pad 39B. On this ramp but should start in the following months, the tags for the test flights of the new Ares I rocket, so another shuttle launch might have resulted from this ramp to further delays in the Constellation program. Since the Pad 39B had to be ready for a rescue mission, the STS -125 mission, no changes could be made to the actual start of conditioning. Only minor modifications to the Launch Complex, and the construction of three lightning rods were therefore allowed. In mid-January turned out that the ramp 39A would be ready in time.

End of January 2007 were performed 39A tests on the pad. Among other things, the RSS - access platform has been scaled back from the park to the working position and again on January 29. The next day, the pumps were taken for fuels in operation. These checks were necessary because the launch pad had not been used in January 2003 for STS -107.

Preparation of the orbiter

After their last mission Atlantis was moved to the Orbiter Processing Facility on 21 September 2006. In the obligatory post- space shuttle in early October it was discovered that during the STS -115 flight, a micro- meteorite had gone through the radiator the open right container door. The foreign body leaving a hole level on the inlet side and 2.7 mm on the exit side of 0.8 mm. The radiator was damaged in a range of 2.5 cm around the hole was repaired and a short time later.

The assembly began in early December 2006, the solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building ( VAB), each consisting of four segments that were placed on one another and joined together, was completed a month later. End of December 2006 also arrived, the outer tank in Florida.

After the assembly of the outer tank was completed between the solid rocket boosters on 20 January 2007, Atlantis was rolled to the VAB on February 7. The next day the ferry with external tank and solid rocket was connected.

On 15 February, the space shuttle to the pad 39A was run. This so-called roll-out had to be postponed by one day because a sensor was packed in a solid rocket tests at unusual values ​​. The probe, which monitored the chamber pressure was replaced on the launch pad.

Space Shuttle damaged by thunderstorm

On February 26, an unexpectedly violent thunderstorm broke in with hail over the Kennedy Space Center (KSC ). Parts of the standing on the ramp shuttles were damaged. First inspections were alone on the outer tank through the partially golf ball-sized hailstones about 7,000 damage to the soft insulation, of which ten percent were classified as in need of repair. Also, at least 26 heat shield tiles in the left wing of Atlantis were affected. This was the largest hail damage in the history of shuttle flights. The previous record held according to NASA a hailstorm of May 1999, which forced a three-week postponement of the mission STS -96. At that time, the external tank was about 600 " bumps " it.

As planned, the leaders of the shuttle program came on 27 February at KSC together with the traditional FRR Flugbereitschaft loss. Actually, the airworthiness of all systems should be certified during the Flight Readiness Review. Instead gave Wayne Hale, the head of the shuttle program, announced that Atlantis would have to be transported back to the VAB due to the hail damage repair work and further studies. Only there was possible a close inspection. Above all, the damage to the orange tank would need to be repaired. The planned start date, March 15, has been canceled, a new date not provided.

Six days after the hail storm took place on 4 March, the seven-hour return transport to the assembly hall. It was the 17 so-called rollback of the shuttle program. The last one took place two years ago, when the Space Shuttle Discovery in May 2005 received a new external tank for the STS-114 mission.

Repair of hail damage

Five days after the arrival of the ferry in the assembly hall, NASA announced that a repair of the external tanks is possible on site. Although a final assessment of the precise scope of the hail damage to the outer tank could not yet be given, but with little repair work has already begun. It was feared that in irreparable damage to the tank they should have been replaced. This would require disassembly of the orbiter and solid rocket boosters from the tank and a longer waiting period means. NASA further stated that the inspection of the solid rocket boosters already ended and that 28 heat shield tiles of Atlantis were affected. Much of it has already been repaired.

On March 15, gave Wayne Hale, the head of the shuttle program, green light, with the repairs to the external tank (ET ) to start. Almost two weeks went on the preparatory work. First, had to be placed in the VAB platforms to examine the entire ET on damages can. At the top, where most of the hail damage was observed, and a special paste was applied to make even the smallest cracks visible. In parallel, repair techniques will be developed in the factory of the tank, since because of the extensive findings on the ET - top of it reached there a conventional method ( fill in and smooth ) is not sufficient.

Following a meeting of the NASA managers to further procedure was set out on a telephone press conference on March 21. Although the repair of the tank was making progress, currently in mid-May was expected to start at the earliest. While the majority of hail damage in the lower and middle area of the outer tank was no repair needed or this could be repaired by spackling, the damage to the tip were severe. Alone, there were around 1,600 bumps localized - confined space and many merge into one another. This section had to be completely removed and applied with spray foam by hand. Because this position of the tank is exposed to the greatest aerodynamic loads during launch, some tests have been carried out.

Expansion of the main engines

NASA announced on 10 April that all test results were available and had been unanimously decided not to replace the external tank. Nevertheless, the conversion option, you keep yourself open if the tank would later repaired but " not airworthy " classified as. The Atlantis Lift-off was not possible before June 8, to give the engineers plenty of time to repair the hail damage, said shuttle manager Wayne Hale, following a discussion on how to proceed.

On April 30 began in VAB with the expansion of the three main engines. It possible contaminants were suspected in the fuel lines because were discovered during maintenance work in the sister ferry Discovery silicone residues. With silicone fuel lines are made to detect cracks in the fuel supply for several years footprints. The technicians had to the standard repair work at the bottom of the outer tank serviced and completed the access scaffolds were removed - these were sometimes very close to the tank. When removing the engine parallel to the work on the tank was liable, this damage again by contact with the platforms, because the entire shuttle varies slightly when the heavy motors are developed.

After one week, all engines were re-installed in the orbiter. While a unit is in perfect condition, was ( SSME -2) was a three millimeter wide Silikonstückchen found in the port engine. Also in engine No. 1, a small foreign particle was discovered. Because of a previously unrecognized change a turbo pump was SSME -2 converted into the engine maintenance hangar - the other two aggregates remained in the VAB.

Anticipated crew changes

Because of several months of displacement of mission STS -117 NASA end of April 2007 announced to bring forward the planned only for the next shuttle flight exchange of American flight engineers on the space station. The time allotted for a start with STS -118 astronaut Clayton Anderson was the Atlantis crew assigned to replace its December 2006 on the ISS working colleague Sunita Williams. Due to the small crew changeover is achieved, that it comes in the timing of the ISS crews are no delays.

Second trip to the launch pad

On May 11, NASA managers met at the KSC to consider whether the shuttle was ready to be moved for the second time to the ramp. After it was declared that all repairs have been completed and evaluated, and the Atlantis will leave the assembly hall in five days. The person responsible for the tank, John Chapman, pointed out that the ET would look speckled by the repaired areas, although the unusual appearance would not affect its flight behavior.

The starting structure was taken on May 15, a day earlier than originally planned, back to the launch pad 39A. After a drive of 6 hours and 45 minutes, the launch platform was placed on the pedestals of the launch pad. Thereafter, the payload, the S3/S4-Segment loaded back into the payload bay of the shuttle.

Last launch preparations

Three months after the first flight readiness decrease the consequence of the end of May meeting was held at KSC. The top leadership of the shuttle program discussed and a half days on the systems of the Space Shuttle and certified on May 31, their suitability. Especially the efforts necessary to repair the external tanks were praised. As a start date June 8 was confirmed, which was called by NASA until then as a tentative date.

Coming from Houston, met on 4 June the crew in T-38 jets at a KSC. Commander Rick Sturckow explained that there had been a " little setback " when he was referring to the weather-related postponement of the flight. The entire crew knew the power of the technicians and engineers who have repaired the external tank, appreciate it. The astronauts have flown over the ramp a few minutes ago and the tank look good.

Mission History


The countdown for STS -117 began on 6 June 2007 and was technically easily. But the weather called for more attention, because for the start day thunderstorms were possible by meteorologists NASA predicted.

Eleven hours after the RSS was working platform ( Rotating Service Structure) moved to its park position on June 8, began the three-hour filling the external tank around 14:00 UTC. Prior to the flight line had caught up with the latest weather reports, forecast a 80% chance of good weather for the launch period, and given the green light. The large rain areas north of KSC would go by Cape Canaveral.

The seven-member crew was awakened at the beginning of refueling and arrived six hours later at the launch pad. After the astronauts were seated, the hatch of the orbiter was at 21:49 UTC closed.

About an hour before the start, the weather had on the two TAL landing sites (Transatlantic Abort Landing ) to the extent deteriorated that are reporting their " closure" had to Istres in France, which is used for only two years by NASA as an alternative space, was not due to fog available and in Zaragoza, Spain rained. At least one landing site had to in an emergency but can be served, otherwise the countdown should have been aborted. 40 minutes before the start of the fog had cleared in Istres, and the military base was ready for use again.

The Atlantis launched on time at 23:38:04 UTC. After about two minutes, the two boosters were jettisoned. Six minutes later, the shedding of the tank after previously the three main engines were shut down. Shuttle program manager Wayne Hale was very satisfied after he had made ​​the first review of the images and movies of the outer tank. During the launch had solved despite the thousands of repair centers hardly insulating foam, as Hale.

For the first time all three main engines ( SSMEs ) were equipped with an auxiliary computer that was developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center to improve safety. The AHMS ( Advanced Health Management System) monitors the high-performance turbopumps of engines that weigh around 500 kilograms and operate at speeds between 23.000/min and 34.000/min. By accelerometer at the pumps, the AHMS evaluates twenty times in a second, how strong vibrate this. When tolerances are exceeded, the engine can be shut off by the AHMS. Only an SSME was this time equipped with an active control computer - so could intervene in an emergency - the other two engines were monitored by their AHMS devices only.

Approximately one and a half hours after the start of the payload bay doors were opened, so that the radiator could unfold and the RMS could be verified. It was discovered a detached heat protection mat at one of the two OMS Triebwerkspods ( Orbital Maneuvering System).

After the wake-up call the team began on 9 June with the investigation of the heat shield. For this, the OBSS extension was attached to the RMS. Were inspected the two wings and the Orbiternase. A preliminary analysis revealed no damage to the heat shield tiles in these areas.

Work on the ISS

On June 10, the coupling was performed. At 19:36 UTC, the Atlantis docked on the south-east of Australia to the space station. Before that Atlantis had a 360 ° rotation performs to give the ISS crew the opportunity to photograph the heat shield.

On the same day the S3/S4-Segment was lifted from the payload bay and passed to the Stationsarm against 21:20 UTC. In addition to the preparation were placed on the first spacewalk (EVA ), the space suits from the shuttle to the station Quest airlock, where Reilly and Olivas spent the night. During this so-called Campouts they breathed in the airlock pure oxygen under lower pressure. Another important event was the replacement of the Soyuz TMA Sojussitzes in the 10 - team capsule. Then Clayton Anderson was officially a member of the ISS Expedition 15 and Sunita Williams, a member of STS- 117th

The fourth flight day (June 11 ) was the installation of the new station element. For the two shuttle astronauts Olivas and Reilly rose at 20:02 UTC of the first EVA of the mission into space. The beginning of this EVA was delayed by over an hour because the gyroscopes "saturated" were and had to be restarted. Therefore, the position control of the ISS at the Atlantis was passed. After the exit, where the two astronauts power and data cables between the ISS and the new module combined that was previously placed in its final position with the Canadarm2 began. In addition, they prepared the present in the S3 - SARJ Sonnennachführungsmechanik (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint) prepares to rotate the solar panels, so that the solar cells can be accurately aligned to the sun and can provide as much power. Also the radiator of the S4 module has been extended. The duo could finish his element after 6 hours and 15 minutes.

During the 11 June, the flight management decided after extensive consultations, the mission by two days to extend and integrate a fourth spacewalk in the flight plan. During this EVA, the insulating jacket should be repaired on the port OMS pod of the orbiter, at shortly after takeoff damage had been discovered.

June 12 brought the development of the S4 solar panels, a significant change of the station exterior. First, the front wing was semi and fully extended after some time, before he was shot in the working position. It was then moved to the rear panel as well. Unfolding was carried out in stages, so that the wings could heat up in the sun. This prevents, that the individual lamellae adhere to each other. This problem occurred when rolling out the first solar module during STS -97, when the panels were unfolded in a single pass. The surfaces of the P6- collector unfolded abruptly, causing wave-like movements along the mast. This suggested the solar cells that were still in the transportation canister, against its walls.

Flight day 6 (June 13 ) began before the awakening of spaceman with an attempt by the control center, the remaining wing of the P6 element partially retract. This was later continued by the EVA team Patrick Forrester and Steve Swanson under the second exit, which lasted seven hours. It could just under half of the wing is retracted. Then the astronauts unlocked on S3/S4-Element the transport blockages of SARJ - Nachführungsrads and activated the drive. Actually, all retaining bolts should be solved, but as both a drive coupling going to set up, they found that another clutch reacted because they were wired wrong. NASA decided to analyze the problem and to remove the retaining bolts during another alighting.

Because only 13 of the 31 disks of the P6 module could be folded, a further experiment was on the seventh mission day, 14 June, undertaken. Three and a half hours was the ground station command to roll in, nevertheless the success was low. The wing was still extended up to half. It was therefore decided to tackle the Paneelproblem during the third exit on the following day.

In addition, the ISS residents had to deal with computer problems: in the Russian part of the ISS fell during deployment of the S4 solar panels from three computers at the same time, which are also responsible for the position control of the station. According to NASA, the crew would have had to leave the station in the worst case, if the problem would not be fixed. The position control was handed over to the Atlantis. After several hours, one of the three computers has been started again.

Then an attempt was made to start the other computer. A series of fire alarms were produced that drew the crews an hour earlier than planned. Gradually, it was possible to start all computers again. Right after that was done with the engines of the Zarya module, a course correction. After a few minutes all the computers from crashed again. During this time, Atlantis performed the course corrections. However, since the fuel reserves of the ferry were limited, the computer had to again be stable before undocking. NASA had the astronaut to save energy in order for Atlantis to reach an additional Andocktag and to give the computer experts more time. The reason has been suggested, among other things, that the failure was caused by electromagnetic interference of the newly installed S3/S4-Elements.

After the wake-up call at 12:40 UTC on 15 June (eighth day of flying ) the third exit was prepared. This began at 17:24 UTC, when Jim Reilly and Danny Olivas left the Quest airlock. First on the program was the repair of the heat protection mat on the OMS pod. Olivas was attached to the robotic arm of the shuttle and taken to the target area. With his hand he pressed the mat back to her place and then she clung with purposes other " surgical instruments " from the medicine chest firmly. Meanwhile, was by Jim Reilly on the Destiny module, a new hydrogen valve installed. Then they both went to the semi- extended P6- wing to make him finally collapse. Since the retraction took longer than planned, prolonged NASA's scheduled to six and a half hours by one hour EVA. Gradually P6 could be retracted. At 1:22 UTC, the EVA ended after 7 hours and 58 minutes.

Achievements have been in the Russian part of the ISS: Once the astronauts had diverted the power supply in the space station, the computer could start again, being not yet perfectly was. Furthermore, the data determined the computer was submitted for evaluation to the Russian control center.

Flight day 9 was used to loading of cargo from the ISS and Atlantis in the garbage in the reverse direction. Preparations have also been made ​​for the fourth exit the next day. In addition, Sunita Williams broke the long-duration flight record for women, Shannon Lucid had set up in 1996 to the Russian space station Mir. The old record was 188 days and 4 hours. From NASA was informed that the computers in the Russian part of the station are fully operational again, they would but watch them closely.

After the wake-up call at 11:38 UTC began on 17 June ( 10 Flugtag ) preparations for the fourth and final exit. This began at 16:25 UTC. During the alighting of Patrick Forrester and Steven Swanson broke, among other things, the last bolt, in the past prevented rotation of S3/S4-Segmentes. In addition, a camera was placed there. Since the duo was done very quickly with the tasks, they could still perform some other tasks. These were the installation of an Ethernet cable to Unity, dismantling a GPS antenna and the cultivation of a portion of the debris shield on the Destiny laboratory module. The withdrawal ended after 6 hours and 29 minutes around 22:54 UTC.

Flight day 11 was for the crew, in addition to the transhipment of freight, free. The crews also prepared themselves to the undocking of Atlantis. Also the S3/S4-Segment with the SARJ was first moved and aligned with the sun. NASA additional tests were performed to check the station computer. Among other things, the position control was passed back from the Atlantis to the ISS computer. This was necessary in order for the Atlantis can undock. At 22:51 UTC, the bulkhead between the Atlantis and the ISS were closed, both the end of joint work and the end of the 190 - day stay of Sunita Williams marked on the station.


On the twelfth mission day (June 19 ) coupled the Atlantis after eight days and 19 hours shared flight at 14:42 UTC of the ISS from. Then the station was surrounded at a distance of between 180 m and 200 m once to get video and photographs of the ISS in its current configuration. Several large objects were observed which moved away from the ISS. In the further course of the day watching the shuttle crew other objects. Presumably it involves ice. In the further course of the day was conducted with the OBSS the last inspection of the heat shield and made ​​preparations for landing.

After the wake-up call everything was stowed away in the course of the June 20 ( 13th day of flying ), which was no longer needed. Among others, the Ku- band antenna is retracted. In addition, all important for landing systems were analyzed and U.S. television interviews.

The 14th flight day ( June 21) started the team with the preparations for landing. The flight line had decided to use that day initially only the two landing opportunities at KSC. However, the weather conditions for landing did not look very good. A broad band of clouds with showers and thunderstorms moved across the KSC, which is why both landing opportunities were called off there about two hours before each landing. The crew then began preparing for another day in orbit.

With the preparation for the landing of the 15th flight day ( June 22) began. Since the weather conditions for the KSC not better than the day looked like before, a landing at Edwards Air Force Base ( EAFB ) was favored. There were two landing opportunities at KSC and three on the EAFB. Because of bad weather, both landing facilities at KSC had to be canceled. However, the crew was instructed to take large amounts of fluid. This was to re- adapt to Earth's gravity and tactics involved in that day for a landing in California.

At 17:50 UTC it was announced they intended to use the first option on the EAFB. This was confirmed at 18:19 UTC. The deorbit burn began at 18:43 UTC and lasted for about 3 minutes. The landing at Edwards Air Force Base took place at 19:49 UTC.

After landing, the orbiter was cooled. The team left this and then ran around the Shuttle. Only Sunita Williams, who had landed in space after 194 days and whose muscles were very much weakened, was handed over directly after opening the hatches in medical supervision.

Transfer to Florida

Several hours after landing the Atlantis was brought to the lifting unit. There she was, ready for transport on the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft said. Inter alia, a rear panel has been mounted on the engine, which reduces air resistance.

After the return transport on the Boeing 747 to Florida had to be postponed several times due to bad weather, the team started on July 1st from Edwards Air Force Base. After two hours, the Boeing landed with Atlantis at the regional airport of Amarillo, Texas. There was refueled, and after two hours ' stay repatriation started again. After that, 747 flew to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, where they remained overnight. The next day started the 747 from Offutt to the U.S. Army base Fort Campbell in Kentucky. There, the 747 stayed with Atlantis due to the weather situation at KSC. On 3 July, the start of the transport was initially postponed because of the weather at KSC. However, the sky over the KSC cleared up, so that the flight could be continued. Two hours later, landed the Boeing 747 with the Atlantis on Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC. After that, the 747 went to the lifting unit, where the Atlantis was lifted from the Boeing.

After shutting the lifting of the Boeing 747, the Atlantis was moved to the Orbiter Processing Facility. There she is prepared for their next mission (STS- 122).