MacLean’s space adventure now set for Wednesday liftoff

Steve MacLeanAstronaut and York alumnus Steve MacLean might not have to wait much longer for his return to space. Following a detailed inspection of NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., MacLean (BSc ’77, PhD ’83) and his five fellow crew members were given a new launch date to begin the STS-115 mission to the International Space Station. The liftoff from Kennedy is now set for 12:29pm Wednesday, Sept. 6.

Right: Steve MacLean is ready for his second space flight

Members of the York community will be able to see NASA’s live broadcast of the launch on two 60-inch, liquid crystal display screens set up in the lobby of the Computer Science & Engineering Building, by staff of York’s Instructional Technology Centre. Once Atlantis is on its way, the TVs will be tuned to the NASA channel daily from 8:30am to 4pm for the duration of the 11-day mission. The NASA feed is also available on Channel 19 on any TV on campus hooked up to the on-campus Rogers system. This includes TVs in college common rooms and residence rooms.

STS115 shuttle crewRight: Astronauts Brent W. Jett, Jr. (right) and Christopher J. Ferguson, commander and pilot, respectively, flank the shuttle mission insignia. The mission specialists are, from left to right, astronauts Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph(Joe) R.  Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steve MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency. (Photo by NASA)

Shuttle managers decided on the launch date after assessing conditions at the Kennedy Space Center following Tropical Depression Ernesto. The centre’s facilities and Atlantis, which remained on Launch Pad 39-B as Ernesto passed by, sustained no damage during the storm.

If weather or other issues prevent Atlantis’ launch on Sept. 6, opportunities are available on Sept. 7 and 8, NASA said. All dates allow for completion of the mission’s objectives and allow for shuttle undocking from the station by Sept. 17. This is necessary so the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, taking the next space station crew up to the orbiting laboratory, can launch on Sept. 18.

Many of the standard launch preparations were completed before the shuttle’s partial move and return to the launch pad on Aug. 29 in anticipation of high winds which did not materialize. In the days after that, teams focussed on completing pre-launch tasks, so officials were able to start a countdown Sunday at 8am.

The STS-115 crew returned to Kennedy Space Center on Saturday morning. They already had begun adjusting their sleep cycles to match their timeline in orbit that changed due to the new launch time.

For information about the STS-115 crew and mission, visit NASA’s shuttle Web site.