Endeavour lift operations in VAB ahead of STS-118

by Chris Bergin

Endeavour has been rolled over from her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-2) – which began at 7:22am local time, for the short trip to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – and is currently undergoing lift operations.

The sixteen year old orbiter is preparing for her first mission in nearly five years, as STS-118’s August 7 launch date closes in. The mission is carrying the starboard S5 truss segment, along with External Stowage Platform 3 to the International Space Station (ISS).

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L2 Members: All documentation used in this article is available to download on the L2 section. Special STS-118 L2 Section coming soon.
STS-118 Flight Plan and handbooks already uploaded, along with a large amount of mission documentation.

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Endeavour’s first motion out of the OPF was at 7:22am Eastern (11:22am GMT), with ‘spotting’ in the VAB before 9am local (1pm GMT).

Weekend work, as has been the case for much of Endeavour’s processing, proceeded well, which included some last minute checks to her OMS pod blankets, to ensure they are firmly in place after one of Atlantis’ blankets came slightly loose after the ride uphill last month.

One area was deemed suspect and was repaired on Saturday inside the OPF.

‘Things going well,’ noted the end of week Standup/Integration report. ‘Began work on OMS pod Wednesday. Pressing toward weight and C.G. (Center of Gravity); will do this work with OTS (The vehicle that will carry Endeavour to the VAB) operation on Saturday.

**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**

‘Tires pressurized. Freon disconnects complete, strongbacks off, and marching toward transport to VAB.’

Endeavour is being lifted inside the transfer aisle in the VAB, ahead of tomorrow’s mating with ET-117 and the twin SRBs for mating.

Endeavour’s last flight was on STS-113, which launched back in November, 2002. Then due to enter an OMDP (Orbiter Maintenance Down Period), as do all orbiters periodically, the disaster that was to follow just a few months later with Columbia ensured an extended stand-down.

With orbiter-wide Return To Flight modifications added to the manifest of work that was already set aside for Endeavour to undergo, the vehicle is now very close to being ready for flight operations.

During her extended stay inside OPF-2, Endeavour was documented as having a ‘possible metallic particle’ stuck in one of her MPS (Main Propulsion System) prevalve screens. Inspection images show the object that is wedged into the screen is similar to that seen on Discovery, prior to her return to flight mission, STS-121.

Evaluations decided on leaving what was classed as a ‘non combustible particle’ inside Endeavour’s MPS, as opposed to potentially causing more contamination by opening up the highly complex workhorse in Endeavour’s aft section.

Endeavour will be the first orbiter to fly with the new SSTPS (Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System) modification, allowing an extended mission timeline. The mod allows Endeavour to stay docked at the International Space Station (ISS) for 40 percent longer – up to 12 days.

Endeavour will also debut the three string GPS (Global Positioning System), which allows for greater ability and redundancy during approach and landings.

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