NASA may change orbiters for manifest solution

by Chris Bergin

NASA managers have started to evaluate manifest options to mitigate schedule issues, following the continuing re-alignment of STS-117’s launch date targets due to the ongoing repairs to ET-124.

Managers are assessing the option of switching orbiters on three upcoming missions, STS-120 – to Discovery, STS-122 – to Atlantis, and STS-124 – to Discovery, in order to allow the possibility of four 2007 missions, even if STS-117 is delayed until June.

**The most comprehensive collection of STS-117 onwards related presentions and mission documentation – not available anywhere else on the public net – are available to download on L2 **

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 –  ET repair latest**

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

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Related Notes and Presentations on L2, including: New FAWG Manifests – Post ET Damage. Daily Ops Reports. NASA and Lockheed Martin Presentations on the ET damage (VAST AND DAILY), plus new images and many downloadable presentations. ET Manifest (Lockheed Martin) ET-117 Production Milestone Presentations, ‘through to’ STS-124 Baseline Mission Presentations, plus more, available to download on L2.

**Previous articles on the damage events: Article 1Article 2 – Article 3 – Article 4 – Article 5 – Article 6 – Article 7 – Article 8 – Article 9** Click for more screenshots of the damage.

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Currently, two windows are on the table for Atlantis, starting with NET (No Earlier Than) May 11 – in a launch window extending through to May 20 – and NET June 17, should NASA decide next month that they will demate Atlantis and re-stack with ET-117.

‘SSP (Space Shuttle Program) is still pursuing ET repairs that may support launch in the May 11-20 time frame,’ noted Shuttle manager Paul Hill – recently selected as the Deputy of the Mission Operations Directorate (MOD).

‘The charts (of the current) repair schedule show a STS-117 NET May 23, but that assumes all ~1600 sites must be repaired with standard PDL foam. The charts then go on to explain options to reduce that time by using larger/non-standard repairs and flying some as-is. Thus May 11 is still a date SSP has asked us to work towards.

May 23rd is not a viable launch target, due to the solar beta cut out, which ranges from May 21 to June 7.

‘The PRCB (Program Control Requirements Board) will reconvene April 10 to make a final decision on flying a repaired ET-124 or swapping to ET-117. The intent is to have a complete set of risk analyses based on flight history and new tests to support that decision.

‘If we swap to ET-117, STS-117 is estimated NET June 17.’

**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**

While Shuttle manager Wayne Hale noted last week that the interruption to the current manifest would be dissolved in about a year’s time, actions are already being evaluated on ensuring the 2007 schedule allows for four missions.

‘After manifest discussions with John Shannon and Mike Suffredini this morning the programs have agreed to float a manifest CR to ASSESS new launch dates which involves changing Orbiter assignments for STS-120/10A (was Atlantis, assess moving to Discovery) STS-122/1E (was Discovery, assess moving to Atlantis) and STS-124/1J (was Atlantis, assess moving to Discovery),’ noted a memo acquired by this site.

‘This option, if implemented, allows for 4 flights this year vs. 3, and basically allows for us to start flying the manifest ~ 2 to 3 months sooner, which is extremely important to both programs if we’re to meet the manifest by 9/2010.’

Swapping the orbiters is no easy task, with the need to refine the already baselined payloads for the respective orbiters. An example was already provided in the case of STS-122, which will see its mission reduced by two days, losing one of its spacewalks in the process.

‘Atlantis does not, and is not planned to receive the SSPTS (Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System) mod, so STS-122/1E will lose 2 days and 1 EVA from the current mission timeline, at least. The CR will allow the community to assess this very complicated change and be prepared to make a decision is in around 3 weeks.’

Minor troubleshooting is being carried out on Atlantis in the meantime, although such efforts are utilizing the opportunity of allowed time, as she remains attached to the damaged tank.

Initial repair efforts on ET-124 are proceeding without any major ‘poke outs’ – while assessments are still being carried out on the ‘non standard’ areas of the tank, ahead of the April 10 decision day.

‘The 30 sampling PDL pours are complete. Trim is in work. Assessment will be part of trim operations. Trim ops were completed on Friday. This completes repairs on the damage sample areas,’ noted Monday’s Launch Ops report. ‘Implemented marking of the ‘no ice’ zone in preps for repairs/sanding. PDL repair paper streamlining process was completed over the weekend.

‘MAF (Michoud Assembly Facility) is assessing database against minimum thicknesses. The plan is to identify the areas that exceed the minimum thickness requirement. The minimum thickness violations will be further assessed by zone for combination with other adjacent minimum thickness violations and/or against those adjacent items that only require sand and blend.

‘This data will allow us to develop a repair strategy to maintain as much good NCFI as possible while minimizing repairs and KSC processing timeline. Our data assessment will attempt to identify any individual repairs that could be performed where it makes sense, i.e. where they are isolated or have no risk to aforementioned criteria.

LO2 Tank Defect Repairs – Received (notification) from MAF delineating 89 new locations for PDL repair. Disposition is in place to perform these repairs and they will be in-work this week.’

Further articles will follow. Please refer to the live update pages on L2 (for NASA presentations, memos, emails and images) and on Atlantis’ section (open to all).

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