While the spotlight has been firmly placed on Discovery and to a lesser extent Atlantis – younger sister Endeavour is set to enter the fray with her long-awaited power up, marking the end of her “hibernation.”
“OV-105” has been out of active service since December of 2003, when she entered the routine Orbiter Major Modification (OMM) period that all Orbiters have to undergo periodically during their operational lifetime.
Endeavour is set to begin initial power up of the electrical systems next week, maybe as soon as Tuesday.
“The re-assembly of the vehicle is going well with crews working 24/7 to reinstall avionic boxes,” noted a source. “There are 198 connectors that remain to be mated prior to that power up milestone.”
Endeavour did enjoy some excitement during her downtime, with a short trip from her home OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility) 3 hanger to the nearby Florida Space Authority’s RLV (Reusable Launch Vehicle) hanger at the Kennedy Space Center earlier in the year.
The stay in the RLV hanger was to allow modifications to the OPF’s bay and platform areas, while Endeavour herself underwent testing to see how Orbiters responded to a new radar system – used to detect debris during launch.
Before the power up process begins, some final elements of work need to be completed on Endeavour. Those include the servicing of one of the water coolant loops and one freon coolant loop – in addition to the avionic boxes.
The power up – which won’t include Endeavour’s flight computers at this stage – is part of a processing flow to get the Orbiter ready for a mission late next year.
“The integrated schedule shows a launch on October 19, 2006,” added the source. “I believe that can be moved earlier since we are currently using personnel for OV-105 processing that should be tied up with the other two Orbiters.
“As it is, OV-104 (Atlantis) is almost ready to be stacked again and has very little work going on. OV-103 (Discovery) is in a normal turn around processing mode. As that work gets completed, that will release more people for OV-104.”
As it stands, the processing flow for Endeavour is as follows:
Full Power up – October 10th, 2005.
FRCS (Forward Reaction Control System) Installation – March 22nd, 2006.
Waste Management System Installation – May 2nd, 2006
OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) Pod Installations – 22nd April and May 22nd, 2006.
SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) Installation – 8th June, 2006
OPF Rollover to VAB – August 9th, 2006.