NASA managers juggle shuttle launch schedule again

by Chris Bergin

With just over five weeks to go before the launch of STS-117, NASA managers have re-aligned the shuttle launch manifest, with two alternative options for launches in the second half of 2008, which is highlighted by the flagship STS-125 mission to service Hubble.

June 8 remains the target for STS-117, although another delay to the removal of Atlantis’ engines to next week leaves only three days of contingency remaining for the opening mission of 2007.

**The most comprehensive collection of STS-117 onwards related presentions and mission documentation are available to download on L2 **

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 VAB Flow**

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

**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-122 (LON-322) Processing**

Related documentation on L2: New FAWG Manifest Presentation. New Launch Schedule (STS, Russian, ATV) presentation. Daily Expansive Processing Sheets. ET Repair Documentation – from start of March to end of April – plus more (vast).

As NASA officials always state, the FAWG (Flight Assignment Working Group) schedules are only planning documents, to aid processing flow timelines. However, historically they are the most consistent and accurate schedules NASA produce.

Four launches are still targeted for 2007, although that remains to be tight, requiring STS-117, STS-118 and STS-120 all launching without any further delays, so as to allow STS-122 – and the flight of Discovery with the Columbus module – to keep on track with the NET (No Earlier Than) December 6 launch target.

However, there is a level of freedom with the launch of Discovery, should the date slip closer to the end of December, given the issue of YERO (Year End Rollover) has now been solved.

**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**

STS-123 and STS-124 appear to be solid with their February and April, 2008 launch dates, before the manifest places all future flights to the status of ‘under review.’

This is where alternative options kick in, with the possibility of moving STS-119 away from Atlantis, which would see her finale mission to Hubble moving to the emotionally awkward launch date of September 11.

Should STS-119 – currently before the Hubble Servicing Mission – move away from Atlantis, it would become Endeavour’s mission on October 23. This would leave Atlantis with only three missions to go (including STS-117) before her 2008 retirement. If STS-119 remains with Atlantis, it is likely the Hubble mission will slip around a month or so, to ease processing timelines.

Supporting STS-125 as the rescue orbiter is Discovery, with the new tag of STS-400, ready to launch from Pad 39B seven days after Atlantis heads for Hubble. This will be the final time two shuttles will be sat on both of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch pads at the same time.

Pad 39B will be immediately handed over to Constellation after the stand-down of the LON (Launch On Need) requirement, with Discovery rolling to Pad 39A, as Constellation start work on making modifications to 39B for the Ares I-X test flight. This flight makes the FAWG manifest for the first time, with an opening launch date NET of April 15, 2009.

Ironically, should that date stick, Ares I-X – a single solid rocket booster with a dummy upper stage – will be on 39B at the same time as Discovery will be on 39A ahead of her STS-128 mission, currently NET April 9, 2009, which would see Ares I-X launching at the same time Discovery is docked to the International Space Station (ISS). However, natural delays makes this scenario unlikely.

Other changes noted on the manifest includes some additional elements of payload being included in later flights, while the flight of Endeavour with Node 3 now becomes manifested as the final shuttle mission, set for July 9, 2010, moving behind the two reserve missions, classed as CLFs (Contingency Logistic Flights) – currently scheduled for January and April, 2010, although they could yet be cancelled out of the manifest.

An updated schedule, which includes Progress, Soyuz and ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) flights, is listed at the end of this article.

Meanwhile, Atlantis is still on schedule to rollout of the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) on May 15, despite ongoing delays to the requirement of checking for RepliSet contamination in her three main engines.

All three SSMEs need to be removed, although clearance issues relating to scaffolding that is supporting the near-completed ET-124 repair work meant the process of removal can’t begin until Monday at the earliest. The full process of removal to re-installation of the engines only takes about a week.

However, it is understood that the latest rollout date only contains three days of contingency in regards to the NET June 8 launch date for STS-117.

Updated launch schedule:


May 12 – Progress M-60 (25P)

June 8 – STS-117 (13A) – Atlantis – S3/S4

[July 28 – STS-318 (Rescue STS-117) – Endeavour]

August 9 – STS-118 (13A.1) – Endeavour – Spacehab-SM, S5, ESP3

August 16 (TBD) – Progress M-61 (26P)

October 2 – Soyuz TMA-11 (15S)

[October 5 – STS-322 (Rescue STS-118) – Discovery]

October 20 – STS-120 (10A) – Discovery – Node 2 ‘Harmony’

November 4 – ATV-1 ‘Jules Verne’

[December 2 – STS-320 (Rescue STS-120) – Atlantis]

December 6 – STS-122 (1E) – Atlantis – ICC-Lite, Columbus

December 12 (TBD) – Progress M-62 (27P)


[January 31 – STS-323 (Rescue STS-122) – Endeavour]

February 12 (TBD) – Progress M-63 (28P)

February 14 – STS-123 (1J/A) – Endeavour – SLP-D1 with SPDM ‘Dextre’, JEM ELM-PS

April 8 – Soyuz TMA-12 (16S)

[April 10 – STS-324 (Rescue STS-123) – Discovery]

April 24 – STS-124 (1J) – Discovery – JEM PM with JEM RMS

Alternate 1

July 10 – STS-119 (15A) – Atlantis – S6

[July 23 – STS-319 (Rescue STS-124) – Endeavour]

September 11 – STS-125 (HST-SM4) – Atlantis

[September 18 – STS-400 (Rescue STS-125) – Discovery]

October 23 – STS-126 (ULF2) – Endeavour – MPLM, LMC

Alternate 2

[July 23 – STS-319 (Rescue STS-124) – Endeavour]

September 11 – STS-125 (HST-SM4) – Atlantis

[September 18 – STS-400 (Rescue STS-125) – Discovery]

October 23 – STS-119 (15A) – Endeavour – S6

TBD – STS-126 (ULF2) – Discovery – MPLM, LMC


TBD – STS-127 (2J/A) – Discovery or Endeavour – JEM EF, ELM-ES, ICC-VLD

TBD – STS-128 (17A) – Endeavour or Discovery – MPLM, LMC

April 15 – Ares I-X

TBD – STS-129 (ULF3) – Discovery or Endeavour – ELC1, ELC2

TBD – STS-130 (19A) – Endeavour or Discovery – MPLM, LMC


TBD – STS-131 (ULF4) – Discovery or Endeavour – CBC, Russian Docking Cargo Module

TBD – STS-132 (ULF5) – Endeavour or Discovery – ELC3, ELC4

TBD – STS-133 (20A) – Discovery or Endeavour – Node 3 with Cupola

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