Endeavour arrives at Pad 39A – August 7 launch still achievable

by Chris Bergin

With only a day or two of contingency remaining in the pad flow for STS-118, Endeavour has arrived at launch pad complex 39A this morning, ahead of the target launch date of August 7.

Delayed a day due to poor weather, Endeavour’s stack eased out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at 8:10pm local time, arriving at the pad at 2:10am. In total, eight IPRs (In Process Reviews) were cleared as no constraint for rollout following interface testing.

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No engineering issues halted Endeavour from rolling out to the pad Monday morning, with only the weather in the local area proving to be the problem, as engineers readied NASA’s youngest orbiter to start her trip to the launch complex.

NASA information noted that by the time Endeavour received final clearance, time ran out on being able to ‘hard down’ Endeavour at the pad, before localised storms were forecast over the KSC area.

‘To get to the pad in time we needed to roll out of the VAB NLT 0400 this morning. We got very close, and cleared the last of our constraints, but in the end, we did not have enough time for first motion by the cut-off time,’ noted Tuesday processing information on L2. ‘We are not carrying any constraints to tonight’s (Tuesday) rollout effort.’

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The only issues ahead of rollout consisted of a lost nut, which was found on the Mobile Launch Platform ‘Zero Level’ – and the slight damage to the External Tank (ET-117), as reported on Monday. Neither were deemed a problem after being cleared.

‘Picked up eight IPRs (none are constraint to roll),’ noted Shuttle Standup/Integration report information. ‘Planning to August 7 launch date; stoplight charts show yellow because are only two contingency days (as of Monday).’

‘Took paper (recorded issue) on a lost nut from D-platform. The nut was found on MLP Zero level,’ added the processing information. ‘The location was such that the only possible vehicle damage could be the SRB (Solid Rocket Motor) aft skirt. SRB Mechanical Engineering inspected and cleared the vehicle for roll to the pad.

‘Potential ET Bipod damage found during B platform retract; retract was put on hold during evaluation. Scratches are within drawing limits and will be fly as is.’

Of the eight IPRs listed, several are of no concern, while the others will be worked on at the pad. One – which relates to the Master Events Controller (MEC) may involve a changeout at the pad, although there is limited information on the issue, which is in relation to the SRB commands which command ignition at launch, and separation at the end of first stage flight.

‘During Ignition Sep PIC (Microcontroller) Test, SRB Ignition Fire 1 and Fire 2 failed. (Engineering) will reconfigure MDM (Multiplexers/Demultiplexers) cross-strapping to get back to normal configuration for now until a trouble shooting plan is developed,’ listed the IPR information. ‘Will need to reconfigure (separate) MDMs when ready to trouble-shoot the IPR.’

A changeout may be similar to that experienced with STS-99, when one of Endeavour’s E-MECs had an anomaly during a standard pre-launch countdown test.

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