Endeavour’s STS-118 payload arrives at Pad 39A

by Chris Bergin

With STS-118’s payload arrived at the pad Sunday morning, Endeavour’s rollout on Tuesday will complete the arrival of the primary elements at Complex 39A for the August 7 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

As with most shuttle missions, the primary payload – Spacehab Single Module (SM), Integrated Truss Segment Starboard-5 (S5) and the 3rd External Stowage Platform (ESP3) – aren’t the only elements riding on Endeavour.

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Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) processing for Endeavour has been flawless, allowing the target of first motion for the STS-118 stack to remain on track for 00:01 Tuesday, arriving at the pad for 07:00 local (midday UK time).

Before rollout of the shuttle, the payload made its way to the pad, ready to be installed into the orbiter during pad integration work.

‘S0600.001 payload to pad move to pad call to stations at 00:01 Sunday. Lift and mate canister at 03:30 Sunday,’ added processing information on Saturday. ‘Lower canister scheduled for 04:00 Monday.’

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The STS-118 payload – or Launch Package (LP) 13A.1 – consists of the Spacehab Single Module (SM), the Integrated Truss Segment Starboard-5 (ITS S5) and the 3rd External Stowage Platform (ESP3).

Less known are the array of Secondary Payloads which will ride uphill with Endeavour – mostly stored inside the orbiter’s middeck and SPACEHAB module – as listed in the STS-118 Flight documentation available to download on L2:

CCM-A (Cell Culture Module – Configuration)

The CCM-A (Myofibers) experiment is a United States Air Force/Space and Missile Systems Center (USAF/SMC) middeck payload designed to monitor the activities of tissue samples at the cellular level under the influence of microgravity.

From pre-launch through post-landing, these muscle, bone, and endothelial cells are supplied with oxygenated media and selected drugs.

As the media and drugs pass through the cartridges containing cells, divisions of the effluent are delivered to a fluid sump collection tube array or re-circulated to the same cell cartridge after oxygenation.

Fixative within the collection tubes discontinues all biological activity, thus sustaining a chronological physical record for future analysis.

MERLIN (The Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/Incubator) and SPEGIS (Streptococcus Pneumoniae Expression of Genes In Space)

The MERLIN is a rear-breathing middeck locker size facility that provides a thermally controlled environment for scientific experiments in the middeck of the Space Shuttle, SPACEHAB module, or the International Space Station (ISS) EXPRESS Rack.

The experiment volume provides thermal control to temperatures within the range of -20 degrees C to +48.5 degrees C (moderate temperature loop required for below +4 degrees C).

For Flight 13A.1, MERLIN will launch continuously powered in the shuttle middeck and will contain 3 SPEGIS sample canisters at 4 degrees C. The SPEGIS canisters containing Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria are constructed out of aluminum, and provide 2 levels of containment.

Inside each canister are three polypropylene vials, which house the bacteria and provide the third level of containment. During the docked phase of the flight,

MERLIN will incubate the SPEGIS sample canisters at 37 degrees C for approximately 12 hours. At the end of the incubation the samples will be removed and placed in MELFI to be frozen, after which the MERLIN remain unpowered for entry.

Prior to undocking samples will be removed from MELFI and placed in Coldbags for return on the Shuttle.

EPO (Education Payload Operations) Educator

Education Payload Operations (EPO) Educator is a sortie payload manifested for 13A.1. The primary objective is to engage students, educators, and the public in the Vision for Space Exploration through the adventure of STS-118 and the flight of the first Educator Astronaut, Barbara Morgan. EPO Educator is divided into three activities.

Activity 1 will distribute flown seeds to schools across the country as part of a national engineering design challenge where students will plan, design, build, and validate the performance of their design for a plant growth chamber and use the seeds to conduct science experiments.

Activity 2 will capture video of crewmembers showing various locations on the space shuttle and provide descriptions of crewmember duties during ascent, on-orbit, and descent.

Activity 3 will capture video of the transfer of the EPO-Kit C plant growth chambers (an ISS stage payload). Crewmembers will also describe the physical characteristics of the plant growth chamber, the connection with ground based education activities and the duration of the on-orbit investigation.

CBTM-02 (Commercial Bioprocessing Testing Module – 02)

The CBTM-02 is a commercial experiment designed to pre-clinically test pharmaceuticals, and develop and examine animal models useful to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the microgravity environment.

The experiment consists of three Animal Enclosure Modules (AEMs) in the Shuttle Middeck.

The research conducted is expected to answer questions about the effectiveness of a promising drug candidate as a countermeasure to muscle atrophy observed in microgravity.

Perceptual Motor Deficits In Space/Test of Reaction and Adaptation Capabilities (PMDIS/TRAC) – returning with STS-118

The PMDIS objective is to determine if perceptual motor deficits observed in previous missions are simply due to postural instability or actually represent central nervous system deficits.

The equipment is located on the ISS US Lab and consists of a laptop computer with touchscreen, joystick, and reaction switches, mounted on a lap-table tray. PMDIS and TRAC present the crewmember with visual stimuli, and measure the response accuracy and score. The equipment will be set up by ISS crew members prior to Shuttle docking.

After docking, two Shuttle crew members will perform the experiment separately, and the data transferred onto disks for transfer back to the Shuttle.

Also listed are the ‘Payloads of Opportunity’ – consistant with those seen on Discovery’s STS-116 mission.

Ram Burn Observation (RAMBO)

The objective of the RAMBO payload is to help calibrate the RAMBO satellite. This requires retrograde, posigrade, and out-of-plane burns. The RAMBO payload does not require any dedicated Orbiter Maneuvering System (OMS) burn, but will require state vectors. The location of the RAMBO satellite is classified, therefore no pre mission planning needs to be done for this payload.

Maui Analysis of Upper-Atmospheric Injections (MAUI)

The objective of the MAUI payload is to obtain optical signatures of spacecraft plumes using optical telescope sensors and all-sky imagers at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site (AMOS).

The MAUI payload will require state vector information and may request OMS, Primary Reaction Control System (PRCS) and Vernier Reaction Control System (VRCS) burns, if propellant and crew time are available.

The MAUI payload may collect data during any encounter opportunity when the Orbiter support activities can be planned to meet the criteria defined.

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