Atlantis and the STS-117 stack will remain inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) six days longer than expected, following the decision to delay rollout.
The reason for the delay has not been confirmed, although it is likely to relate to Atlantis’ SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) removal, which was recently postponed until repairs have been completed on ET-124.
**The most comprehensive collection of STS-117 onwards related presentions and mission documentation are available to download on L2 **
Related documentation on L2: Major STS Flight Schedule Changes (New FAWGs) – March 27 – NASA White Paper on Manifest Changes – March 27 – Shuttle Flight Preparation Status Charts to STS-124. ET Repair Documentation – from start of March to April – plus more (vast).
**Previous articles related to the ET damage events: Article 1 – Article 2 – Article 3 – Article 4 – Article 5 – Article 6 – Article 7 – Article 8 – Article 9 – Article 10 – Article 11 – Article 12 – Article 13 – Article 14 – Article 15 – Article 16** – Article 17** Click for more screenshots of the damage.
Atlantis’ engines need to be removed to check for possible RepliSet contamination, which will begin with the removal of engine number 2 – to be swapped with Endeavour’s engine number 2.
Clearance issues – between the engines and scaffolding that has been erected to allow access to areas of ET-124 for repairs – delayed the planned removal of Altantis’ engines until next week, although that timeline did not project any delays to the May 6th rollout date – according to previous information. This has now changed.
‘Atlantis rollout from the VAB to Pad A has been rescheduled to May 12th,’ noted processing and ATK information on Friday. ‘The STS-117 launch date remains June 8th.’
**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**
This will mean Atlantis’ stay inside the VAB will have reached 72 days, with pad processing to last 27 days, ahead of the NET (No Earlier Than) June 8 launch.
While there hasn’t been confirmation on why the delay was called on Friday, an extension to the ET repair timeline would cause a follow-on effect on the SSME removal requirement.
However, ET-124 repair work has been going well, as work now moves on to another stage – the process of ‘sand and blend’ which will smooth down some of the applied foam that was filled into the damaged areas of the tank.
‘Sand & Blends activities are scheduled to begin this morning,’ added the processing information. ‘A Pre-task briefing will be held prior to each shift, today, to ensure all personnel understand the ‘Sand & Blend’ processing requirements for these areas.
‘Additional intertank defect evaluations & measurements are complete. These defects will be worked during the BX-265 (foam) application.’
Meanwhile, Endeavour – having her engines re-installed following inspections – will continue to be worked on during the weekend, with engineers checking over the recently installed robotic arm package, such as the OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) – which will be debuting on Endeavour during STS-118 in August.
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