Launch Countdown Begins Anew for Space Shuttle Atlantis

Atlantis Shuttle Crew Returns to Florida Spaceport
The crew of mission STS-115 stop to talk to the media after arriving at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility to prepare for a second launch attempt on Sept. 6 to the International Space Station. Seen here, left to right, are mission specialists Steven MacLean and Joseph Tanner, commander Brent Jett, pilot Christopher Ferguson, and mission specialists Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Daniel Burbank. (Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.)

The clockis once more ticking down towards the launch of NASA's space shuttle Atlantis as sixastronauts prepare to rocket towards the International SpaceStation (ISS) on Wednesday.

The launch countdownfor Atlantis' STS-115mission to deliver newsolar arrays and trusses to the ISS began at 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) asplanned, NASA officials said. The shuttle is set to launch at about 12:29 p.m.EDT (1629 GMT) on Wednesday.

"There's asaying that says if you work hard you bring yourself good luck," STS-115shuttle commander Brent Jett said Saturday of the missioncontrollers, technicians and workers preparing Atlantis for flight. "And ifthat's true, these guys deserve some good luck with the weather."

Jett andhis fellow Atlantis crewmates - shuttle pilot ChrisFerguson and mission specialists JosephTanner, DanielBurbank, HeidemarieStefanyshyn-Piper and StevenMacLean, of the Canadian Space Agency - have trained for their 11-day orbitalconstruction mission for more than four years and weathered delays followingNASA's 2003 Columbia accident.

Atlantis' cargoof a $371.8 million set of new solar wings and 17.5-ton pair of trusses willmark NASA's first major ISS addition since late 2002and the third shuttle flight following the loss of Columbia and its crew.

The missionhas been delayed several times in the last week, first due a powerfullightning strike to the shuttle's Pad 39B launch site that promptedspacecraft checks which prevented launch attempts on Aug. 27 and 28. Mission managers stooddown on Aug. 29 to ready Atlantis to weatherthen-Tropical Storm Ernesto.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.