Space Shuttle operations are building up momentum this week, as Atlantis heads into her next stage of launch preparations for the June 8 launch attempt for STS-117.
At the same time, booster build-up will begin inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Thursday, as Endeavour’s stack – ahead of the NET (No Earlier Than) August 9 launch date for STS-118 – will begin to take shape.
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Hyper loading – the fuelling of hypergolic fuels into Atlantis’ RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters – will take until Friday to complete.
‘Had a good weekend. All SSME leak checks were completed, and reports back are good. Hyper preps were in work all weekend and are nearly completed. Will be in a position to begin hyper loading on 001 Wednesday; expect to complete this by Friday,’ noted the latest shuttle integration report.
‘This should put them in a good position at end of next week to be ready for launch on June 8th. Great work by folks over weekend to complete several items. Work was completed successfully and was a great effort all around.’
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The notably smooth pad processing flow is thankfully lacking any major issues, with the only notes of interest relayed from the pad being the replacement of a couple of screws on the payload bay doors – which have now been closed ahead of hyper loading.
No time was lost on pad processing during Tuesday, despite an incursion into KSC airspace by a small plane.
Also ahead of the launch, several LOX tankers have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center, ready to fuel Atlantis’ repaired ET-124, for what will be four launch attempts, due to the June 14 launch target for the Atlas V launch with NRO L-30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
‘Atlas is currently on Range, with June 14 launch date, so Range re-configuration begins around June 12,’ added NASA information. ‘Trying to have four Shuttle launch attempts through June 12. If do not go by then, must stand down until June 17, and then will have an opportunity every other day.’
STS-117’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR) remains on schedule for the middle of next week, with most Delta reviews of FRR material now completed. (Full STS-117 MOD FRR and Delta FRR coverage on L2).
Meanwhile on Endeavour, Reusable Solid Rocket Motor set RSRM-97, Booster Integration set BI130, will begin to build up on Mobile Launch Platform 1 inside the VAB on Thursday. This process is working on a tight timeline, which engineers will be working extra hours to complete.
‘Got MLP (Mobile Launch Platform) in VAB Friday. Will begin SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) stacking this Thursday,’ added integration information. ‘This is the critical path for this mission. Working six and seven day weeks to complete this.’
Endeavour herself is enjoying a smooth run towards her first flight in nearly five years, with preparations to close her payload doors ahead of rollover to the VAB on July 5 (current schedule).
‘Nose landing gear rigging and tile is in work. Plan to complete this before landing gear functionals on Friday,’ added processing information.
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