POSTFLIGHT SUMMARY FOR STS-104
...Atlantis crew successfully installs the joint airlock "Quest" to the International Space Station...
After a number of technical delays over a period of months, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on July 12, 2001 at 0904 UTC and docked with the International Space Station on July 13. The crew successfully completed three EVA's while attached to the Space Station completing the installation of the joint airlock "Quest". For a complete technical summary of the STS-104 mission visit the STS-104 Post Mission Summary web page at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/archives/sts-104/index.html.
Earlier proposed launch dates for STS-104 in May and June would have been difficult to utilize since the KSC area was impacted by showers and thunderstorms each day during those afternoon launch times. The climatology for the early morning launch on July 12 offered a much higher probability of success. A cloud ceiling below five thousand feet over the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) was the only Return To Launch Site (RTLS) weather flight rule evaluated for possible violation. GOES 8 infrared imagery was not very useful on this day due to high cirrus clouds masking the lower clouds of concern. Pilot reports from the astronaut in the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) were invaluable in determining the location and amount of low clouds prior to the launch. A small patch of broken low clouds noted by the STA 25 miles southwest of the SLF about 2 hours prior to launch dissipated to just scattered clouds at L-30 minutes. Overseas, the two Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites in Spain had excellent weather prior to launch.
After one landing "wave-off" day due to the presence of showers within 30 nautical miles of the SLF, Atlantis landed at KSC July 25, 2001 at 0339 UTC. No violations to the weather flight rules were forecast six hours prior to landing and the weather remained near perfect through de-orbit burn to the shuttle touchdown.
The SMG lead forecaster for STS-104 was Rich Lafosse. Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster was Tim Garner. The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Doris Rotzoll.