Crew arrive at KSC as a wet Endeavour continues pad flow

by Chris Bergin

The crew of STS-118 have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), following a ride from Houston in a Shuttle Training Aircraft (SCA) on Monday.

They arrived in Florida following storm weather over the weekend, weather which produced multiple lightning strikes inside Pad 39A – all believe to have missed Endeavour – although United Space Alliance (USA) engineers are checking for potential water intrusion inside the orbiter.

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The crew, consisting of Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charles Hobaugh, and Mission Specialists Tracy Caldwell, Richard Mastracchio, Dafydd Williams, Barbara Morgan and B. Alvin Drew, completed a series of post insertion training in the simulator at the Johnson Space Center, before making the trip to KSC this evening.

The crew arrived at KSC after a few days of storm weather over the space center, which included eight lightning strikes. Thankfully, initial data shows that all of the strikes failed to hit the orbiter and stack on the pad.

‘Three lightning strikes inside the perimeter at Pad A Friday night. Five more on Saturday night. No strikes recorded Sunday,’ added Monday processing information on L2. ‘Kicked off (request) to accomplish data gathering and analysis…(to) document the Friday and Saturday lightning events respectively.

‘Preliminary results for Friday’s events indicate the vehicle did not take a direct hit. Preliminary results for Saturday’s events indicate at the time of the strikes the Orbiter and ET were powered up with no anomalies noted – the vehicle has continued to operate nominally since the strikes.’

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With the events leading up to STS-117 – and the subsequent hail storm damage that needed to be repaired on Atlantis’ ET-124 – still fresh in everybody’s minds, NASA processing information confirmed that the weekend storms did not result in hail falling on Pad 39A.

‘While there was hail reported by observers at the VAB, OSB, OPF, and Press Site locations on Friday evening, technicians verified the Hail Monitoring System indicated no hail at Pad A.’

Engineers are still evaluating potential water intrusion in Endeavour, after rain water filtered inside the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) whilst the orbiter had her left and right vent doors open.

‘An additional weather related IPR (In Process Review) was taken Saturday afternoon for possible rain intrusion thru vent door 6 left and right,’ added processing information. ‘The vent doors left and right were open to support another job and should have been closed for adverse weather.

‘Initial walk downs of the vent doors indicate unlikely rain intrusion into the orbiter due to configuration of the RSS.’

The weather failed to halt the main operation of the weekend, which occurred on Sunday as Endeavour’s 13A.1 payload was installed into the orbiter’s cargo bay.

Other processes have also being completed over the weekend and Monday. They include: PRSD (Power Reactant Storage and Distribution) LH2 and LO2 checkouts. ET camera test. Engine/aerosurface frequency response tests, Helium signature test, ball seal leak checks.

SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) propellant valves ball seal leak checks and Aerosurface and MPS (Main Propulsion System) TVC (Thrust Vector Control) turnaround checkouts.

Although one day of contingency remains for United Space Alliance engineers, NASA continues to target the first launch attempt of Endeavour on STS-118 for August 7.

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