Atlantis on schedule – shuttle summit progressing well

by Chris Bergin

As NASA close in on “rolling over” shuttle orbiter Atlantis, ahead the first launch of 2007 with STS-117, shuttle manager Wayne Hale is on the final leg of his series of meetings to review the status of the program for the year ahead.

Noting this week has been “great,” Hale has headed to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Thursday, ahead of Friday’s all hands meeting, the final leg of the shuttle summit/all hands meetings.

**Over 3000mb of STS-116 onwards related presentions and mission documentation available on L2 ** 

Shuttle Standup/Integration Report (Jan 18). NASA Daily Ops Report (Jan 18). NASA Launch Operations (Jan 18). ATK Quick Look Presentations (Jan 18) – and more available on L2.

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 Processsing Flow**

**LIVE news updates on Endeavour STS-118 (LON-318) Processing**

**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-122 (LON-322) Processing**

Still officially five flights, but recently manifested as four, 2007 will be the first full year of International Space Station assembly missions since the loss of Columbia in early 2003.

‘Had great time at MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center) Tuesday and Wednesday,’ opened Hale’s notes on January 18th’s expansive Shuttle Standup and Integration report. ‘Had great all hands meeting at MSFC and thanked Robert Lightfoot and the folks at MSFC.

‘Will have interesting PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting today (Thursday), and will have all hands at KSC Friday morning. This has been a great week seeing the folks working on the Program.’ The PRCB presentations are now available on L2. 

Friday will see a key milestone being put into action for STS-117, as ET-124 and the twin Solid Rocket Boosters are mated on MLP-2 (Mobile Launch Platform), in High Bay 1 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

‘SRB linear shape charge installations are complete and tunnel covers installed,’ noted the January 18 ATK Quick Look Presentation. ‘ATK LSS pre-mate walk down is also complete with no issues identified. S0003, ET Mate, preps are in process. Platform moves are planned for 2nd shift. ET/SRB mate operations are planned for tomorrow.’

‘Getting ready to mate ET-124,’ added the Standup report. ‘Working PR on the tank to address some foam observations, but is not a constraint to mate, because have a use-as-is disposition in work.’

Very few issues have been noted in the run up to mating, which has allowed a smooth processing flow inside the VAB with both the ET and the SRBs.

‘Closeouts for SRB stacking in VAB continue, with tunnel installation and torques in preparation for ET mate Friday,’ added the Standup report. ‘For ET-124 processing, are currently carrying no constraints to ET mate. Plan to retract platforms tonight and do ET mate Friday.’

Atlantis will be heading to the VAB herself next month, as final TPS (Thermal Protection System) work is finalized and final closeouts of the vehicle are completed in Orbiter Processing Facility 1 (OPF-1)

‘Have less than three weeks remaining in OPF. Continuing powered up system testing, and targeting 25th for final power down. Continuing tile work. Have about 26 tile cavities. Crew compartment and aft closeouts continue,’ added the January 18’s Standup report.

‘Worked critical path to landing gear functional, which is targeted for middle or late next week. Cycled payload bay doors yesterday for tile hingeline carrier panel check, which is complete and good. Will position aero surfaces tonight for rollover.’

**Ride home through the fire and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis on STS_115 – And now also with Discovery on STS-116 – TWO Stunning 2hr, 355mb video – from deorbit burn to post landing**

NASA also used the all hands meetings to finalize the date for the Flight Readiness Review of STS-117, noting: ‘Ready to finalize date for STS-117/13A FRR; chose Feb 27 and 28.’

In an uncommon move, Atlantis’ payload, the S3/S4 truss elements, will be heading to the launch pad four days after the vehicle arrives at the launch pad.

‘The Payload customer has formally requested a schedule change for transporting the Payload to the Pad in order to change out a rotary motor controller,’ noted the January 18th NASA Operations Presentation. ‘The payload is currently scheduled to arrive at the Pad on the 8th of February; the new date is February 18th.’

The last time a shuttle payload went to the pad after the rollout was on STS-93 in July 1999.

Incidentally, Pad 39A has now been confirmed – albeit late in the timelime – as the pad where Atlantis will launch from, confirming 39B has now seen its last regular shuttle launch with last December’s STS-116. 39B will now receive a level of pad modifications ahead of its official handover to Constellation for the Ares I-1R test flight, while leaving all shuttle requirements in place for LON-326 – the rescue mission contingency for STS-125’s Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

‘Had Pad A review – went well, and team is ready to support off Pad A. Looking for payload operations next week 22nd through 24th. Things at Pad A are going well.’

Meanwhile, Discovery is continuing post-mission processing in OPF-3, and Endeavour is progressing towards her readiness for STS-118 this summer.

Discovery’s post flight TPS inspections are over half way complete, with her three SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) being prepared for removal, while Endeavour’s payload configuration is in works, with her right OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) pod about to arrive in the OPF. The left OMS pod was installed last week.

Endeavour’s next major milestone will be the installation of her three SSMEs, which will power her into orbit this summer. This will begin on Friday with engine 1.

‘Preparing OV-105 engines for installation,’ added the Standup report. ‘Should be loading up engine 1 (2045) this evening to support start of installation tomorrow.’

Moving back to the shuttle summit/all hand meetings, a review of the ET status showed three tanks are undergoing major processing work, namely ET-117, ET-120 and ET-125. While some critical paths exist – which were discussed at Thursday’s PRCB meeting – the smoother flow of the tanks out of the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) continued to earn praise, even earning a deserved award for Lockheed Martin’s Wanda Sigur, head of the ET project in New Orleans.

‘Mr. Hale congratulated Wanda for receiving the highly prestigious National Space Club Eagle Forum award for her leadership in the ET program,’ noted the Standup report, which continues the recognition of the superb efforts of the MAF workforce, which fought back from the adversity of Hurricane Katrina to provide the shuttle program with a continued flow of ETs during return to flight and return to assembly.

The report also noted a career move within Lockheed Martin’s ET management at MAF, as they continue to position themselves for the transition from shuttle to Ares I/Orion.

‘Mike Quiggle has worked at Lockheed-Martin for a number of years on the ET project and is moving to the Chief Engineer position in Lockheed-Martin on the Constellation CLV. John (Shannon) thanked Mike for many years of service to ET, including the RTF activities.

‘Jeff Blette has been named as the Chief Engineer for ET at Lockheed-Martin.’

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