Atlantis becomes part of STS-117 stack – OPF leak

by Chris Bergin

Mating operations are only four hours behind schedule, as engineers work on mating operations with Atlantis with her External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters ahead of next Wednesday’s rollout to Pad 39A.

While operations inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) continue, an Ammonia leak caused the evacuation of OPF-1 (Orbiter Processing Facility) shortly after Atlantis had vacated the facility.

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Operations on Atlantis and the stack will be ongoing over the coming days. These operations were classed as four hours behind schedule as of this morning.

‘Operations are currently tracking about 4 hours down from the original timeline mostly due to a timeout called for a fall abatement issue with the 1268 stand,’ noted the expansive February 8th Launch Operations report (on L2). ‘The issue was resolved and operations have continued well since.’

Soft mate operations between the aft of Atlantis and ET-124 are complete, following last night’s lifting of Atlantis from the transfer aisle to High Bay 1 in the VAB.

**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 high quality 2hr, 355mb videos – from deorbit burn to post landing**

The leak in OPF-1 was not as serious as another leak that occurred in the OPFs recently, and no workers were harmed. OPF-1 will remain closed to workers until the weekend.

‘OPF Bay 1 was cleared yesterday morning after Atlantis roll-out due to the smell of Ammonia. A leak was found at a seal on the ammonia dewar located right behind the Ops Desk in OPF Bay 1,’ added the report.

‘Safety entered the Bay every 2 hours to monitor the leakage rate and ammonia concentrations, and they will continue this practice today. OPF-1 will remain closed with hyper fans running through 1st and 2nd shifts today. Ammonia venting through the roof vent will pick-up tonight on 3rd shift. OPF-1 will remain closed with hyper fans running on Friday 1st and 2nd shift.

‘The final ammonia venting operation will occur on Saturday 3rd shift. Downwind monitoring will continue throughout the operation. Helium leak checks and leak repair are planned for next week.’

As NASA gets ever closer to the March 15th launch date, another milestone was completed yesterday, following the completion of the S0044 Launch Countdown Simulation.

Meanwhile, Discovery has just one more SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) to be removed from her aft, as post-STS-116 processing continues in OPF-2, while opposite operations are in progress with Endeavour, as her pre-flight processing for STS-118 has suffered no major issues during her ‘awakening’ from a Major Modification Period.

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