NASA plans ambitious STS/ISS finale

by Chris Bergin

Another – more expanded – manifest has been acquired by this site, pointing to NASA’s best case International Space Station assembly goals, in a hugely ambitious and positive finale to the Shuttle program.

Resulting as a modified manifest from yesterday’s first half PRCB 42013FN manifest, the new document shows changes that were – it is understood – agreed on during a key PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting, ahead of the ISS summit with international agency heads.

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The manifest lists 17 flights, of which 16 involve flights to the ISS – plus one to service the Hubble Space Telescope (HST-SM4). Two flights remain from the 19 flight manifest, but are classed as CLFs (Contingency Logistic Flights).

As already known, the manifest kicks off with Discovery’s STS-121 test flight and logistics mission to the ISS, in a window ranging from May 10 to May 23.

Changing on the manifest is STS-119 (15A), taking the S6 truss uphill. This mission has been moved down the timeline – after STS-124 – and will involve a different orbiter (Atlantis) than previous manifests have listed.

With flights 17 and 19 now being placed under review as standby missions, Endeavour will enjoy the final flight of the Shuttle, with a welcomed finale of taking Node 3 and Cupola modules to the ISS as the final additions via a Shuttle mission.

Node 3 was expected to be dropped from the manifest, but – for now at least – has a stay of execution.

While the manifest is the latest plan from NASA, carrying out the flights listed in order and within schedule is highly unlikely. Natural delays incurred with orbiter processing will stretch the schedule into the 2010 retirement year, but sources note that two flights is more likely to be the aim for 2006.


STS-121 is still pushing ahead for May, and while External Tank ‘ET-119’ began its journey from the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) today, the modifications made are yet to be certified.

ET-119 – plus ET-118’s role on the CSCS (contingency shuttle crew support) STS-300 support mission for STS-121 – will only gain the green light to fly as part of the Shuttle stack when results from wind tunnel tests are received next month.

ET-118 has to arrive at KSC in time to support processing for the CSCS LON (Launch On Need) requirement in support of STS-121 in event of a rescue mission.
Currently, all ETs will now fly with a modified Ice/Frost ramp and without their PAL (Protuberance Air Load) ramps, in order to help reduce dangerous foam liberations hitting the orbiter on ascent.

MAF sources are only in a good processing flow to support 2006 Shuttle missions with ET-119 and ET-118, raising doubts over more than two flights being achievable in the year. One causality of such a realisation is expected to be STS-117 (13A) with Atlantis – which a push down the schedule to 2007 expected.

More articles will follow, relating to payloads and the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in early 2008. Screenshots have been cut to remove potentially sensitive information.

Below is the current state of play with the remaing missions for the Space Shuttle Program, collated from Feb. 24 PRCB 42013FN STS Manifest (Second, Expanded Document), ISS Assembly Document and Sources:


1 – May 10 – STS-121 – ULF1.1 – Discovery – MPLM Leonardo
[August 4 – STS-300 – CSCS for STS-121 – Atlantis]
2 – August 28 – STS-115 – 12A – Atlantis – P3/P4
[October 28 – STS-301 – CSCS for STS-115 – Endeavour]
3 – November 16 – STS-116 – 12A.1 – Discovery – P5 & Spacehab-SM
4 – December 7 – STS-117 – 13A – Atlantis – S3/S4 (possible postponing to 2007)

5 – March 15 – STS-118 – 13A.1 – Endeavour – S5 & Spacehab-SM
6 – May 3 – STS-120 – 10A – Discovery – Node 2
7 – June 14 – STS-122 – 1E – Atlantis – Columbus
8 – August 23 – STS-123 – Endeavour (possible ULF2 with MPLM Leonardo)
9 – October 11 – STS-124 – 1J – Discovery – JEM PM Kibo
10 – November 29 – STS-119 – 15A – Atlantis – S6
11 – February 7 – STS-125 – HST-SM4 – Endeavour
12 – April 3 – STS-126 – Discovery (possible 17A with MPLM Donatello)
13 – May 22 – STS-127 – 2J/A – Atlantis – JEM EF Kibo
14 – July 3 – STS-128 – Endeavour (possible UF3 with MPLM Donatello; the 6 person ISS crew is established with this flight)
15 – October 2 – STS-129 – Discovery (possible UF4 with Express 1 & AMS-02)
16 – December 4 – STS-130 – Endeavour (possible 19A with MPLM Donatello)
17 – March 19 – STS-131 – CLF – Discovery
18 – May 14 – STS-132 – 20A & 14A – Endeavour – Node 3 & Cupola
19 – August 20 – STS-133 – CLF – Discovery
**Flights 17 and 19 under review as CLFs

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