STS-117 rollout update – Boosters in train accident

by Chris Bergin

The rollout of Atlantis and her repaired External Tank is likely to take place on the 16th of this month, following the latest ET-124 repair estimates. Engineers are also half way through the process of removing Atlantis’ main engines for inspection.

Meanwhile, booster segments – set to fly on a future mission – were involved in a train derailment while en-route to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The train is now back on the tracks and heading to Florida.

**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: Standup Reports. Daily Processing Ops Reports. Lockheed Martin Schedule Presentations. Daily ATK Processing information. Daily ET Repair Assessment Presentations – plus more (vast).

**Previous articles related to the ET damage events: Article 1Article 2 – Article 3 – Article 4 – Article 5 – Article 6 – Article 7 – Article 8 – Article 9 – Article 10Article 11 – Article 12 – Article 13 – Article 14 – Article 15 – Article 16** – Article 17** – Article 18** click for more screenshots of the damage.

While Discovery and Endeavour enjoy smooth processing flows, the main concentration of work is being held inside the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where continued work is being conducted on the hail damaged ET-124.

‘Lockheed Martin schedule shows four days for ogive repair sprays, followed by shakedown inspections, another two days to reconfigure the platforms for pencil point area sprays, then will reconfigure and pull remainder of platforms back for rollout,’ noted Monday’s Shuttle Standup/Integration report. ‘This appears to lay out to May 16th rollout to pad.’

A May 16th rollout will leave only two days of pad contingency remaining in the current launch target of June 8. A review of the rollout date will take place on May 11, although the workforce received more praise from NASA shuttle management for their efforts thus far.

**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**

Work on the tank is extensive, with inspections on work that has been completed being undertaken at the same time as the final areas of repairs are being finished up.

’77 PDL Pour areas had the Conathane applied and the molds installed Monday night,’ added Tuesday’s Launch Operations report. ‘The PDL application will be completed this morning and then trim work will begin on 1st shift today.

‘Additional ET Foam Hail Damage: 1 PDL Pour area had Conathane applied and molds were installed last night. The PDL application will be completed this morning and trim work will begin on 1st shift today.’

Removal of Atlantis’ main engines (SSMEs) is ongoing, with SSME 2 removed yesterday and placed into the VAB transfer aisle before being moved to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) engine shop. The same process is being carried out today on SSME 3.

The removal is to allow detailed inspections for potential RepliSet contamination. The same process was carried out on Endeavour last week, with the delay to Atlantis’ inspections being caused by clearance issues between the engines and scaffolding – which was removed on Sunday – that was erected for ET repairs.

‘SSME removal/reinstallation operations began yesterday with SSME #2 demate/lowering. SSME #3 demate/lowering is in work at this time. Engine removal/flowliner inspection work continues through next week.’

Also now inside the VAB, ET-117 has being placed into HighBay 2W, following its removal from an extended stay inside the barge that transported it from MAF last month. ET-117 will fly with Endeavour on STS-118.

At one point, the tank looked like it would replace ET-124, before managers decided they could ably repair the primary tank for Atlantis’ mission. However, should inspections find anything serious, the tank swap could still be carried out.

Meanwhile, at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), the final External Tank has begun to take shape, as the New Orleans plant begins ET-138 construction. The tank is not manifested with any of the future shuttle missions, and will be used as a back up tank, should it be required.

‘The panel is the first of 12 that will eventually construct the Liquid Hydrogen Tank aft dome for the final tank, ET-138,’ noted Michoud information. ‘The tank will be ‘partially-built,’ providing NASA with an important resource should it be needed to support a future, unplanned shuttle mission.’

Also inside the VAB this month will be the segments that make up the boosters for Endeavour’s STS-118 mission. Reusable Solid Rocket Motor set (RSRM-97) and Booster Integration set (BI-130) will begin their build up in the VAB from the middle of May.

However, a future set of booster segments were involved in a train accident whilst en-route to KSC, as the train they were travelling on derailed late last week. No damage was noted to the booster segments, which were built at ATK’s plant in Utar.

‘There was a railroad train incident on a shipment of eight segments and two exit cones on their way to KSC. The train was travelling east to Kansas at about 9:00 a.m. CDT Friday morning when it experienced derailment of a few of the wheels on three of the segment cars on the aft end of the train,’ noted this week’s Standup report.

The segments involved were the six remaining RSRM 98 center and forward segments (STS-120) and RSRM 99 aft segments (STS-122).

‘The train was travelling about 20 mph when this happened, and was brought to a stop safely about 3/4 miles down the track. There are eight axles on each railroad car, with two wheels per axle. Two axles are tied together into a truck, and two trucks are tied together with a span bolster. On the third and fourth cars from the aft end, the second axle on each car had one wheel inside and one wheel outside the track.

‘Visual evidence indicated one more axle on the front end of each car had gone off and back on the track. The last car on the train had two axles that had gone off and then back on the track. This was a fairly simple re-railment procedure to the railroad personnel, but UP flew in their elite response team (called ‘Go’ team) within 2 1/2 hours.

‘The team did their assessment, and the re-railment was completed within minutes of starting. There was some brake line (hose and mechanical structure) damage. The train continued at slow speed 60 miles to Salina, Kansas. The railroad flew in their top mechanics and performed the repairs Sunday. The train was back on the road Sunday night and is currently in the Arkansas/Louisiana area.’

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