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Shuttle Mission: STS-107
Orbiter: Columbia
Date: January 16, 2003

Did You Know?

Image: Montage of images including the Space Shuttle and American Flag The liquid oxygen vent on the external tank has been opened to allow the super-cold liquid oxygen to boil off, thus preventing over pressurization while the tank remained near its full level. Now, with the vent closed, preparations are made to bring the tank to its flight pressure. This occurs at T minus 2 minutes, 55 seconds.

Once the Shuttle's on board computers start their terminal launch sequence any problem after that point will require calling a "hold" and the countdown recycled to T minus 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Ground Launch Sequencer (GLS) continues to monitor several hundred launch commit functions and is able automatically to call a "hold" or a "cutoff" if a problem occurs.

Image: STS-107 Mission PatchOn the insignia for STS-107, the central element of the patch is the microgravity symbol, µg, flowing into the rays of the astronaut symbol. The mission inclination is portrayed by the 39 degree angle of the astronaut symbol to the Earth's horizon. The sunrise is representative of the numerous experiments that are the dawn of a new era for continued microgravity research on the International Space Station and beyond. The constellation Columba (the dove) was chosen to symbolize peace on Earth and the Space Shuttle Columbia. The seven stars also represent the mission crew members and honor the original astronauts who paved the way to make research in space possible. The Israeli flag is adjacent to the name of the payload specialist who is the first person from that country to fly on the Space Shuttle.

T-9 minutes and counting...

T-09 minutes -- the Ground Launch Sequencer (GLS) is activated and the terminal countdown begins.  All countdown functions are now automatically controlled by the GLS computer located in the Firing Room Integration Console.

T-07 minutes, 30 seconds and counting -- the Orbiter Access Arm is retracted. Should an emergency occur requiring crew evacuation from the Orbiter, the arm can be extended either manually or automatically in about 15 seconds.

T-05 minutes, 00 seconds and counting -- the crew activates the Auxiliary Power Units (APU) to provide pressure to the Shuttle's three hydraulic systems which move the main engine nozzles and the aero-surfaces.

T-04 minutes, 55 seconds and counting -- the liquid oxygen vent on the external tank is closed.

T-04 minutes, 00 seconds and counting -- the final helium purge of the Shuttle's three main engines is initiated in preparation for engine start.

T-02 minutes, 50 seconds and counting -- the external tank Gaseous Oxygen Vent Hood -- known as the beanie cap -- is raised and retracted. It had been in place during tanking operations to prevent ice buildup on the oxygen vents.

T-02 minutes, 00 seconds and counting -- STS-107 flight crew -- close and lock helmet visors.

T-01 minutes, 57 seconds and counting -- the external tank's liquid hydrogen is brought to flight pressure by closing the boil off vent, as was done earlier with the liquid oxygen vent.

T-00 minutes, 50 seconds and counting -- Orbiter transfers from ground to internal power.

T-00 minutes, 31 seconds and counting -- the Shuttle's onboard computers start their terminal launch sequence.

T-00 minutes, 16 seconds and counting -- the Sound Suppression System is activated and 400,000 gallons of water begins to pour onto the deck of the Mobile Launch Platform and Pad B to protect the Shuttle from acoustical damage at liftoff.

T-00 minutes, 10 seconds and counting -- the "go for main engine start" command is issued by the Ground Launch Sequencer. (The GLS retains the capability to command main engine stop until just before the Solid Rocket Boosters are ignited.) Concurrently, flares are ignited under the main engines to burn away any residual gaseous hydrogen that may have collected in the vicinity of the main engine nozzles. A half second later, the flight computers order the opening of valves which allow the liquid hydrogen and oxygen to flow into the engine's turbo pumps.

Page Last Revised Page & Curator Information
February 13, 2003 Online coverage by: Dennis Armstrong (NASA), Anna Heiney (IDI)
Web Development: Lynda Warnock & Debbie Barton (FDC)
Video Production: Chris Chamberland & Mike Chambers (Johnson Controls)
Countdown Clock by: Jim Fitzgerald (FDC)
NASA Official: Dennis Armstrong (

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