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full_frontal_occlusion

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-122

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Space shuttle Atlantis launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Centre today (7 February) at 1945 hrs GMT, on its primary mission to deliver the European Space Agency Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station.

STS-122 is the 24th Space-shuttle mission to the ISS and the 121st Space-Shuttle flight. The mission will also return Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Daniel M. Tani to Earth, who will be replaced by Léopold Eyharts, a French Flight Engineer representing ESA. The flight also marks the final scheduled visit by Atlantis to the ISS.

Docking is expected 1724 hrs GMT on Saturday 9 February.

The completion of STS-122 will leave ten flights remaining in the Space Shuttle program until its retirement in 2010.

Both the Shuttle and the ISS will be visible from the UK for the next 11 - 14 days (dependent on mission extension to be determined after rendezvous) at dusk and weather permitting.

The ISS will pass directly overhead London tomorrow Friday 8 Feb. Look due west from 1753 hrs, the ISS will pass directly overhead at 1756 hrs and continue due east.

It will be one of the brightest objects in the sky at an estimated -2.4 magnitude.

If we are lucky, both the Shuttle and the ISS will be visible one after the other prior to docking. I currently don't have an estimate of how far apart but I would guess 5-10minutes on exactly the same tracks.

Full story here

Follow the mission progress here

Check times of passes for your location here

Columbus lab details here

ISS information here

ffO.

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I always breathe a sigh of relief when these missions take off safely. It's so incredibly dangerous that it's remarkable there are so few accidents at all. I do wonder if these shuttles will be the last shuttles due to the latest cuts in funding.

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I always breathe a sigh of relief when these missions take off safely. It's so incredibly dangerous that it's remarkable there are so few accidents at all. I do wonder if these shuttles will be the last shuttles due to the latest cuts in funding.

The US administration are pushing ahead with the Constellation programme with the goal of a manned Lunar return and permanent settlement within 10 - 12 years.

The added pressure of not having a suitable manned re-entry vehicle after the Shuttle retirement and until the Orion launch vehicles are certified in 2014, has left a somewhat embarrassed administration. Between 2010 to 2014, the entire US and European manned programmes are dependent on Russian vehicles and co-operation.

However as with all things driven to tight schedules, extending the Shuttle service life will also ease pressure on the Orion and increase the likelihood of delays, cost overruns etc.

The Shuttle is also showing signs of increasing unreliability and hence increasing risk of failure. Any loss of life or even a post launch aborted mission will also kill the Shuttle programme and severely curtail the ISS programme not to mention American pride.

Update on Shuttle-ISS pass timings

The current weather synoptics looks good for clear skies over the southern half of the UK for tonight (Friday 8 ) and pretty much the whole UK for tomorrow night. Both the Shuttle and the ISS will be visible from pretty much anywhere south of Glasgow / Edinburgh although at these locations, elevation will appear much lower, still tracking west-east but passing due south at the apex. Brightness will also be reduced at around -1.0 magnitude.

The following pass details are for ISS observation from Oxford which will also cover most of England and Wales. Start a few minutes early to allow for error and your eyes to become accustomed to the reduced light.

NB, the further north you are from Oxford, the ISS and Shuttle will not appear directly overhead.

The Shuttle will be independently visible tonight only, lagging the ISS by 19 minutes but on exactly the same track.

ISS

8 Feb Mag -2.4

Start 17:53:01 look due west ISS will appear about 100 above the horizon.

Max 17:55:50 look straight up

Ends 17:58:21 look due east ISS will disappear about 130 above the horizon

Shuttle only

8 Feb Mag -2.4

Start 18:14:04 As above

Max 18:16:12 As above

Ends 18:16:56 As above

Shuttle docked with ISS

9 Feb Mag -2.5

Start 18:13:43 As above

Max 18:16:34 As above

Ends 18:18:22 As above

10 Feb Mag -2.4

Starts 18:34:24 As above

Max 18:37:14 As above

Ends 18:38:22 As above

Enjoy.

ffO.

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20 minutes to go. Time to find a good spot for the ISS and shuttle fly-over.

On target for 1755hrs with the shuttle 19 minutes behind.

Skies are clear so you should see this even from city centres.

ffO.

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Great view of both the ISS and Shuttle yesterday early evening and bang on time. Both from central London (Canary Wharf).

The ISS was by far the brightest object in the sky with the Shuttle still visible but much less so until it reached about 600 azimuth, when it brightened considerably.

Astronauts on both vehicles are going through their morning wake up procedures and then preparation for rendezvous and docking scheduled for 1725 hrs GMT today (Sat 9 Feb).

The next visible pass for both vehicles will be this evening 1813 to 1818 hrs GMT passing directly over Southern England (London peaks at 1816hrs) after they have docked.

Full live TV coverage can be viewed here.

Atlantis launch video

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yes saw it going west to east as you suggested 1735, quite impressive.

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comes over the horizon at 1831 this evening, for my location anyway, got really bright t,other night

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