Atlantis arrives in the VAB – ready for mating

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle orbiter Atlantis has safely arrived in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) this morning, following her short trip from Orbiter Processing Facility 1 (OPF). She was lifted over to ET-124 and the twin Solid Rocket Boosters during Wednesday’s second shift.

Atlantis is being prepared for the NET (No Earlier Than) March 15 launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on STS-115, carrying the the second and third starboard truss segment (S3/S4) for installation to the orbital outpost.

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Atlantis was cleared for the trip following the ‘complete hardware and debris/contamination assessment along with MR rationale for gaseous oxygen 2-inch poppet (PD4) missing chrome plating,’ according to the Launch Ops report.

This related to an ignition source concern from a chip that came off the GOX 2-inch disconnect during STS-116, which needed to be evaluated in order to understand if any work had to be done while Atlantis was still horizontal.

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‘Assess R&R options for gaseous oxygen poppet in the horizontal and vertical orientations along with appropriate risk assessment,’ noted NASA managers. ‘Provide list of requirements that cannot be met in the vertical orientation. Report results to the daily PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) prior to orbiter rollover from OPF to VAB.’

With the rollover approved for dawn Wednesday morning, this issue has been successfully evaluated, with news of any work required to follow in the next 24 hours.

Attached to the sling crane in the VAB, Atlantis was lifted over to her External Tank (ET-124) and twin SRBs which are sat on top of the MLP (Mobile Launch Platform).

This will begin during the second shift at KSC, so that less workers will be around when she is lifted over the High Bays.

Images of the rollover and VAB preps are available on the STS-117 live update pages.

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