Potential damage to Discovery’s SRMS (Shuttle Remote Manipulator System) is being evaluated, after an impact occurred with the robotic arm, during work on the orbiter.
Discovery is currently in OPF 3 (Orbiter Processing Facility), undergoing final preparations for her rollover to the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building), where she’ll be mated with her External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters, ahead of STS-121, currently scheduled for May.
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The incident started on Friday, when a tile technician bumped into a heat lamp, which smashed against a handrail, showering a small amount of glass in the aft midbody of the orbiter’s payload bay.
Work took place on Saturday to clean up the glass, but one of the buckets used came into contact with the arm in the payload bay.
‘PR RMS-303-0135 was generated to document the bridge bucket making contact with the RMS,’ noted a NASA Ops Daily Report. ‘The incident occurred Saturday at approx 2210 hrs after technicians were finished cleaning glass from the payload bay (reference previous entry).
‘The technicians had just dropped off equipment on the 13 platforms and were in the process of stowing the bucket when the contact occurred. Since the sensor pad that shuts down the bucket upon contact was below the plane of impact, the bucket did not stop automatically.’
An investigation into any damage on the arm is taking place. The last time a similar incident occurred was prior to STS-113, when a worker bumped into Endeavour’s RMS. Following an investigation, the arm, RMS 201, was deemed to be undamaged – and was cleared for flight.
A similar investigation is taking place for this incident, with some of the blankets that protect the arm to be removed to confirm the RMS is undamaged.
‘Marks were noted on the blanket in two places. The entire west side of the 13 platforms is controlled and an investigation board has been formed,’ added the report. ‘RMS Engineering was also notified.
‘Once the investigation board releases the area for work, the blankets will be removed and the RMS will be inspected.’
Discovery is due to rollover to the VAB, early in April. The orbiter is due to have her payload bay doors closed next week, as part of preparations for her departure from the OPF.