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Launch Profile

Mission Profile
The mission profile begins with an overview of launch events, from main engine ignition to orbital insertion.

Terminal count
The terminal count begins 20 minutes before the planned liftoff time and ends when the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) ignite.
First stage
The first stage of ascent begins with ignition of the SRBs and ends two minutes later, when the reusable boosters separate from the shuttle.
Second stage
The second stage of ascent begins with SRBs separation and ends approximately eight minutes after liftoff, when the external tank separates from the orbiter. Main engine cutoff (MECO) occurs during this stage.

Abort Procedures after Liftoff
If something goes wrong after liftoff, and before the shuttle reaches orbit, contingency plans go into effect immediately. Abort procedures are designed with crew safety in mind. Which abort mode is activated depends upon what has gone wrong, where the orbiter is when the abort becomes necessary, and weather conditions at the contingency landing sites.
Launch FAQ
Frequently asked questions about launch.

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Curator: Kim Dismukes

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Updated: 30 January 1997

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