Shuttle manifest re-alignment expected

by Chris Bergin

NASA is preparing for – what sources claim will be – major changes to their Shuttle launch manifest at a summit meeting next Monday.

The Manifest Summit will involve “everyone” – according to a memo acquired by this site, which will result in changes to launch dates. STS-117 already being noted by sources as moving to later in 2007.

**Latest documentation, memos, manifests, and mission presentations for STS-116 through to STS-125 are available on L2**
**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-116 Processing Flow**
**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 (STS-317) Processsing Flow**

While the next Shuttle mission – STS-116 with Discovery – is already tight on the processing flow, Atlantis’ STS-117 is also struggling to make its February 9 LON (Launch On Need) target in support of her sister.

The primary mission, STS-117 – with a NET (No Earlier Than) launch date of February 22 – is understood to be moving to April. There has been no official note on how this relates to STS-116 still being able to launch in December, especially with the relation to the LON requirements that are crucial to allow Discovery to launch with the support of a rescue mission.

The move of STS-117 – if confirmed – is noted as due to the tight processing flow with Atlantis affecting the availability of a slip down the launch window, subsequently conflicting with the launch of the Russian Soyuz TMA-9 on March 9. Atlantis has to be undocked from the ISS before the arrival of the Soyuz.

This appears to be a critical factor, with sources speaking of an agreement between NASA and the Russians on the April switch for STS-117.

Other issues are understood to be in play, such as next month’s decision on the modification to the Ice Frost Ramps (IFRs) on the External Tanks – which will relate to ET-124 (STS-117’s tank), plus the ISS CCS R6 software upload – which will require crew training.

However, the Shuttle Manifest Summit refers to all future flights, especially in 2007, but inclusive of the final salvo of missions prior to the 2010 retirement date of the orbiters.

‘We have scheduled Monday, October 16th to have a Manifest Summit and (we) are looking at about 3 hours (for the meeting). As you know, there are some manifest disconnects in calendar year ’07,’ said Shuttle manager Wayne Hale, in the memo acquired by this site.

While it would be unfair to class any changes to launch dates as delays, given all NET dates are used only as processing guidelines, Hale also made a point of mentioning the current mission targets do not support – or match – the current NASA budget cycles for the Shuttle program. The tone of the memo also holds the potential some flights may be cancelled, although that has never been hinted at in recent months.

‘For some time we have been carrying a FAWG (Flight Assignment Working Group) Manifest that does not match what is in the budget cycle or in a POP Cycle.

‘I would like to clear up disconnects in the ’07 manifest and then look at out-years ’08, ’09, and ’10 and try to align with what we really think we will fly with what the budget folks have been working with. To that end, everybody is involved. The Randall Adams organization (FOIG) has been involved.’

Hale also noted what the main processing concerns are to the current flow, picking out the flow of External Tanks and Orbiter processing as some of the better known challenges that NASA are trying to mitigate. However, Hale ‘expects’ changes to the made to the current manifest after this summit meeting.

‘Everybody ought to plan on participating on Monday morning. In the near term, motor, booster, and engine are in good shape. It will probably be tank, ground processing, Orbiter, plus some Space Station considerations that are going to be prime discussers for ’07.

‘I do expect to come out of that Monday meeting with some adjustments to the ’07 flight schedule, in particular.’

One can only speculate what changes will be made – bar STS-117’s change, which has multiple sources claiming the move. However, It is possible the changes would move the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, STS-125 (HSM-04), up the manifest into 2007, which has been noted as desirable on NASA memos for some time. A decision to approve the mission is set to take place this month.

Latest Shuttle Manifest (End of Sept.) Downloadable on L2

01 – December 7, 2006 – STS-116 – 12A.1 – Discovery – P5, Spacehab-SM, ICC
[February 9, 2007 – STS-317 – LON for STS-116 – Atlantis]
02 – February 22, 2007 – STS-117 – 13A – Atlantis – S3/S4
[May 8, 2007 – STS-318 – LON for STS-117 – Endeavour]
03 – June 11, 2007 – STS-118 – 13A.1 – Endeavour – S5, Spacehab-SM, ESP3
[July 26, 2007 – STS-320 – LON for STS-118 – Atlantis]
04 – August 9, 2007 – STS-120 – 10A – Atlantis – Node 2, PDGF
[September 28, 2007 – STS-322 – LON for STS-120 – Discovery]
05 – October 17, 2007 – STS-122 – 1E – Discovery – Columbus, ICC-Lite
06 – December 6, 2007 – STS-123 – 1J/A – Endeavour – JEM ELM-PS, SLP-D1 with SPDM Dextre
07 – February 7, 2008 – STS-124 – 1J – Atlantis – JEM PM with JEM RMS
08 – April 17, 2008 – STS-125 – HST SM-04 – Discovery
09 – June 19, 2008 – STS-119 – 15A – Endeavour – S6
10 – August 21, 2008 – STS-126 – ULF2 – Atlantis – MPLM, LMC
11 – October 30, 2008 – STS-127 – 2J/A – Discovery – JEM EF, ELM-ES, SLP-D2
12 – January 22, 2009 – STS-128 – 17A – Endeavour – MPLM, LMC
13 – April 30, 2009 – STS-129 – ULF3 – Discovery – ELC1, ELC2
14 – July 16, 2009 – STS-130 – 19A – Endeavour – MPLM, LMC
[October 22, 2009 – STS-131 – ULF4/CLF – Discovery – ELC3, ELC4]
15 – January 21, 2010 – STS-132 – 20A – Endeavour – Node 3 with Cupola
[July 15, 2010 – STS-133 – ULF5/CLF – Endeavour – ELC5, ELC1]

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