Following the “remarkable” efforts of engineers working on Discovery’s Right Hand Main Landing Gear Strut this week, NASA have confirmed they are on track to launch two more shuttle missions this year.
Timelines for both Discovery and Atlantis’ missions – with launch dates of October 23 and December 6 respectively – show processing flows with little remaining contingency time, but with feasible launch targets.
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Extensive STS-120 Special Section on L2 now live, including Flight Plans, Handbooks, Manuals, documentation and presentations. STS-122 to STS-127 documentation already available.
STS-120 L2 Special includes 19 MOD Flight Readiness Review Presentations. Vast information on the strut issue, including large selection of strut repair images from STS-98 and presentations on STS-120 repair effort.
With Discovery now confirmed to be rolling out of OPF-3 (Orbiter Processing Facility) around dawn on Sunday morning, STS-120’s ability to launch on October 23 remains tight, but feasible. Had the repairs to the leaky strut on the RH MLG taken the scheduled amount of time, STS-120 would have slipped around five days.
Those repair efforts from United Space Alliance and Goodrich engineers earned praise from shuttle manager Wayne Hale, who ‘was pleased to hear about the progress on the landing gear strut leak.’
Classing the fast turnaround of the issue as ‘remarkable,’ Discovery will head to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Sunday with one remaining day of contingency in the flow towards the October 23 launch.
‘Landing gear strut changeout effort has been remarkable. Goodrich changed strut very quickly,’ noted the latest Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report. ‘Lower piston changed, and sent seals to lab. GN2 pressurization completed. Are in middle of 43 hour check; strut not leaking yet. Found damaged brake seal. Logistics is changing brake seal Friday.
‘Have plan to roll over Sunday with one margin day. Mr. Hale said it has been great work on the landing gear strut.’
Discovery will soon be placed on the OTS (Orbiter Transport System) for her short journey to the VAB. After a short stay in the transfer aisle, she’ll be hoisted over to High Bay 1 for mating with the awaiting ET-120 and twin Solid Rocket Boosters.
‘The orbiter is now scheduled to Rollover this Sunday with a first motion targeted at 0530,’ added processing information. ‘The current schedule still supports an October 23rd launch date.’
STS-122 continues to work towards the December 6 launch date, with Atlantis herself working no issues inside OPF-1. The only timeline constraint relates to the stacking of the boosters and ET-125, which will be carried out in High Bay 3 at the same time as Discovery is stacked in the next door High Bay 1.
‘Flow in OPF on vehicle is green. Hooking up LH OMS crossfeed; then can resume work on rest of vehicle,’ added the Stand-up. ‘Getting HB3 ready to accept vehicle, tracking to September 22. MLP rolling in Friday, and plan to start stacking Tuesday. Vehicle flow to December 6 launch date is yellow, but looks doable.’
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Other work relates to ET-125, which will undergo a trim on some of its LO2 Feedline Brackets, although this work is not deemed as major, along with one bracket already repaired at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) prior to shipping, due to a crack that was found in its foam.
‘Scaffolding going up on ET in test cell for trimming on brackets planned to start next week,’ confirmed processing information. ‘Scaffolding Installation to support LO2 Feedline Support Bracket Rework and LO2 Ogive Repairs is in work.
‘Three levels complete and the remainder completed Friday. STS-122 SRB Stacking. MLP (Mobile Launch Platform) Preps will be in work today following the move of MLP-1 to VAB HB-3.’
Hale summed up the dual processing flow, which would see two launches in six weeks, as on track – which would allow for four launches in a year for the first time since the loss of Columbia.
‘Appears we are back on track for STS-120 launch on October 23 and STS-122 launch on December 6,’ he noted. ‘This is a busy but great time.’
L2 members: All documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, updated live.
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