Shuttle’s stablizing ahead of TCDT

by Chris Bergin

All three of NASA’s Shuttle orbiters are enjoying a smooth processing flow, ahead of the next launch with Discovery on STS-116.

Another milestone in Discovery’s preparations for the launch, set to take place between December 7th and 17th, is the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) – which begins Wednesday.

**Over 2000mb of STS-116 onwards related presentions and mission documentation available on L2 – including three presentations associated with this article**

**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-116 Processing and TCDT LIVE**

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 (STS-317) Processsing Flow**

Discovery underwent a large amount of pad processing work over the weekend, with a hot fire test on APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) 3, and is now surrounded by the protective Rotating Service Structure (RSS).

‘Lots of work done on vehicle at launch pad this weekend,’ noted Shuttle manager John Shannon the latest Shuttle Integration Report acquired by this site. ‘Confidence run completed for APU 3. RSS rotated Payload installed. Tunnel adapter mated to SpaceHab and leak-checked. Installed RMS (Remote Manipulator System) side view cameras.

‘Chit for radiator retract hose leak check completed. Mated several OMS (Orbital Manoeuvring System) and RCS (Reaction Control System) quick disconnects for hypergols. Performed half of SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) aft flow tests, and plan to complete remainder today.

‘TCDT on Wednesday and Thursday, and plan to close payload bay doors by Friday.’

The TCDT is a countdown dress rehearsal for the crew of Discovery – which will be commanded by Mark Polansky. Among the TCDT tasks will be emergency scenarios, such as using the launch pad’s Emergency Egress System.

Meanwhile, Atlantis – required for LON (Launch On Need) support of Discovery as LON-317, is pressing ahead with launch processing in OPF-1. She will receive her OBSS boom this week and is undergoing Fuel Cell and RCS Thrusters work.

Work is also progressing on the repair to the flash evaporator, which suffered issues during STS-115. Her three SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines) will soon begin the installation process.

Remaining work on TPS (Thermal Protection System) tiles is picking up a pace with United Space Alliance orbiter techs now being moved from Discovery to aid work with Atlantis and Endeavour.

Endeavour herself is continuing to move out of her deep sleep, following a Major Modification Period. Main work surrounds External Tank door functionality and the installation of her chin panel.

Also of interest for Endeavour, as she moves towards next year’s STS-118, is the installation of Tin Whisker boxes, which – while given no specific notes of their purpose – may be associated with evaluations on recent concerns over slices of metal from circuit boards in the orbiter causing potential shorts.

Also on the good news front is the lack of issues pertaining to the next two External Tanks due out of the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. ET-124 – Atlantis’ tank, required for LON-317 – is still on schedule to leave MAF on December 17.

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