Wilson re-assigned to STS-120

by Chris Bergin

NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson has been re-assigned to STS-120, only half a year after landing with Discovery on STS-121.

The mission, set to launch in September of this year with Atlantis, will carry the Node 2 for installation on to the International Space Station (ISS), after being previously deferred following the Columbia accident.

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Wilson was originally set to fly on Endeavour’s STS-120 for its initial launch target of early in 2004. However, following its rescheduling in 2006, Wilson was removed from the crew roster and re-assigned to STS-121.

Now re-entered into the STS-120 crew, Wilson will replace Michael Foreman for the NET (No Earlier Than) September 8 launch. The rationale for the return to the original crew roster is unknown at this time.

Wilson, 40, was selected by NASA in 1996 for her initial assignment to STS-120. Wilson made her rookie flight with Discovery’s STS-121 mission in mid-2006, as NASA successfully conducted the second test flight, following the removal of the PAL ramp from the External Tank for that flight.

The Boston native will now get to participate in an assembly mission, and important one at that, as the installation of Node 2 allows for the flights of European and Japanese modules to the ISS – which Wilson noted as vital for future exploration.

‘We have used the space station to learn how crews can live and work aboard the station, for long term, to see how crews exercise and can maintain their physical health and strength long term,’ noted Wilson.

‘We have fine-tuned the workings of the crew and our ground control teams so that we can put that into use for a moon or Mars mission. All of the work that has been done on the space station has been great preparation for our return to the moon and an eventual trip to Mars.’

The mission, commanded by US Air Force Colonel Pam Melroy, will deliver launch package 10A, which consists of the US Node 2 (with four DC-to-DC Converter Unit (DDCU) racks and three Zero-g Stowage Racks (ZSR) installed), a Power and Data Grapple Fixture (PDGF) for the station’s robot arm, and a Shuttle Power Distribution Unit (SPDU).

Node 2 – which will also provide a docking port for future shuttle missions – will be the first pressurized habitable module delivered to the station since the Quest Airlock was installed in June, 2001. Also on this flight, the P6 solar arrays will be moved from the Z1 truss on top of the Unity module to its final position at the port end of the truss.

The mission will have new elements to deal with, which were handled by the PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) re-baselining in June 2006.

‘STS-120 was originally baselined in the FDRD on January 23, 2003 with a February 19, 2004 launch date. Following the Columbia accident, the mission was removed from the FDRD. Recently the ISSP has decided to accelerate the ISS International Partner (IP) Module missions by one flight. This includes the STS-120/ISS-10A (Node 2) mission,’ noted the presentation.

‘The STS-120 mission requirements have been updated to include not only the Node 2 installation but also the definite transfer of the OBSS Integrated Boom Assembly and the P6 relocation task (previously planned for the STS-119 (ISS-15A) mission). The STS-119 mission has been deferred until after the delivery of the IP Modules.

Mission objectives include: Unberthing Node 2 from PLB and install on ISS Node 1 Port ACBM. A Crew Rotation, involving Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, who will return on STS-120, which also carries his replacement, Daniel Tani, to the station. Tani will return on shuttle mission STS-122.

Other mission elements for the six docked days on the ISS include the Transfer Water and Critical Items. Transfer OBSS IBA to ISS. Relocation of P6 from Z1 to P5 and re-activate P6, which requires back-to-back EVAs. Protect P6 52 Hr Deact-to Reactivation thermal constraint. Get Ahead Tasks – and ISS Reboost and Flyaround Imagery – Prop Margin Dependent.

Following the re-baseline, the mission may be extended past its initial 11 day mission, with the post-Columbia mission elements coming into play. This includes Late Inspection, which is required after undocking to check for any damage on orbit from space debris.

‘Late inspection cannot be accommodated with current mission content; mission duration increase to 13+1+2 would be required to support pre-undocked late inspection but not possible on non-SSPTS OV-104 vehicle; moving the OBSS IBA transfer task to STS-118/ISS-13A.1 would allow pre/post-undock late inspection,’ added the presentation.

At present, the OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) role in future missions includes stowing the arm on the ISS due to clearance issues with some future payloads. Recently, NASA cancelled the option of building a mini-boom to mitigate this issue.

Other changes include the ‘as expected’ switch to LC-39A, from pad 39B, due to Pad B’s role now restricted for a LON (Launch On Need) requirement to support STS-125, before heading to modifications to support the Ares program.

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