All three shuttle orbiters are enjoying a smooth processing flow ahead of the first key NASA summit of the year to discuss the status of the flagship vehicles.
The summit has been called for this Wednesday, which will be involve “close looks” at post STS-116 processing on Discovery, and launch processing for Atlantis and Endeavour – as they are prepared for what is expected to be four launches in 2007.
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The summit will be led by shuttle manager Wayne Hale, as the program reviews where they stand in terms of processing, in what could be classed as a mini FRR (Flight Readiness Review) for the fleet.
‘Summit on 17th for all vehicle processing. Orbiter, Program Integration, and a couple of elements will be involved in the discussion to assess the vehicles,’ wrote Hale in the latest Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report. ‘Have list of agenda items; will ensure that we are all on the same page.’
Atlantis will kick off the 2007 launch schedule for the shuttles, as she launches on STS-117 to the International Space Station (ISS), NET (No Earlier Than) March 15. Atlantis had her payload bay doors closed last week as she closes out work on her midbody, ready for rollover to the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building).
‘Vehicle in good shape. Have a month left of processing. Critical path is the tile; 41 cavities left and 105 completed. Have a good bond plan, which has us completing this task by the rollover date; will watch this closely every week,’ added the report, confirming the rollover date – which has been delayed a week without any impacts to the launch date – is still under review.
‘Closed the payload bay doors. Will do cycle of the doors after we do some tile work around the hinge line of the doors. Will not be leaving the doors open and will not be providing any access to the midbody at this point. Basically, the midbody is closed out for flight.
‘Tile critical path includes the nose landing gear specifically. Marching towards a landing gear functional on the 23rd. Will ensure landing gear is completed before then and that the functional is complete. Everything going well with the ET and SRB process. Marching towards mate review on 15th and mate on 19th.’
Sometimes the forgotten orbiter of the fleet due to her lack of launch activity post Columbia – due to a Major Modification Period – Endeavour’s march towards her summer launch (STS-118) is processing without issue.
‘Left Hand OMS (Orbital Manoeuvring Pod) is installed. The base work heel has been installed. Working on OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) and MPM optics alignment. Engineering has a good plan; putting shoulder back on the sill as a temporary installation.’
The installation of her OMS Pods are a key stage towards flight, as the orbiter starts to take shape from her previous ‘bare’ appearance, as seen when she enjoyed a short spell in the Reusable Launch Vehicle hanger at the Kennedy Space Center, which was used for radar testing on Endeavour, as well as allowing work to be carried on in her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-2).
‘Doing optics now that Left Hand OMS is installed. Verifying that slotted holes are slotted in correct direction and in right amount. After fit check, will send out for holes to be slotted and install for flight. Issue is being handled well. Should be done by end of month for engineering installation.’
In another key event for her launch processing, Endeavour’s three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) will begin installation into the aft of the orbiter this week.
‘Plan to start installing Engines 2045, 2051 and 2047 for OV-105 (Endeavour) on the 19th. They all have the AHMCs on them. Running final set of checkouts today on Engine 2045. When this is done, will get into leak check on that engine, which will be put into Position 1 on Friday.
‘The other two Engines (2051 and 2047) have completed all critical processing and are in final pre-installation walk down, so we will be ready to support that critical milestone.’
The SSME installation comes shortly after a test on another engine was tested at the NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC), which suffered a sensor fault, but was still classed as a good test. However, they may conduct a re-test on Monday.
‘On Engine 0525, had a good test. It ran a full duration of 710 seconds. It is in engine drying mode, and we will perform nozzle tube leak checks after that. We did have a low-pressure field pump discharge temp sensor that was kicked out during the test. Performed some troubleshooting on that again.
‘If can resolve this, will be able to test again on Monday. This same sensor was removed during the last test in December. We sent sensor to the vendor who confirmed that under cryogenic conditions, one of the bridges did open up. Performing some wiggle tests on the harness today to isolate where the problem may be. Do have an extra sensor if it needs to be replaced.’
This test was also commented on the Stand-up/Integration report by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), who added: That was the fifth test that we ran down at SSC on the hi-pot knife-edge seal redesign; have a few more to go.
‘Relative to the sensor that failed; that was a new sensor. A channel 8 failure on the sensor was verified. This was the same part number that failed and is not a flight configuration. We have a full effort going on to determine what is happening.’
Meanwhile, post flight processing of Discovery is progressing well, with inspections on her Thermal Protection System (TPS) continuing, which has so far identified 22 tiles that need to be replaced, following her successful STS-116 flight.
‘TPS processing going well. We are 35 percent complete on post-flight inspections. Removed 6 tiles so far; there are 16 more planned. Total of 22 to be removed, but this number will grow as we finish post-flight inspections and review all that is being picked up.’
While Discovery enjoyed a clean flight, damage was located around the ET door (Port), following an impact from the left Solid Rocket Booster during ascent. These tiles will require specialized installation.
‘Looking at any replacements around the ET doors. Working with Engineering, because Engineering released that we install three around those areas. Working this with Engineering now.’
And finally, in what was previously a big concern for the shuttle manifest, Lockheed Martin and NASA workers at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans are on schedule with their next series of External Tanks (ETs) that are being lined up for shipping to KSC.
‘ET 117’s production is going well. Continuing to support April 4th completion date. Moved tank to building 420 this week to continue with final production activity. Critical path is through the bipod; removing foam and doing some back shot work on harness assemblies.
‘ET 125 is in Cell A where we are working towards completing work on flange. Dealing with corrosion issues. First sprays are planned for this weekend.
‘For ET 120, have feed-through connector installation activities in progress as well as foam and cable tray removal, so can get to ice frost ramp.’
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