ET-126 arrives a day early – ready for STS-123 and STS-122 support

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle Endeavour’s External Tank (ET-126) has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) a day ahead of schedule, in time to support LON (Launch On Need) for Atlantis’ STS-122 mission.

The tank’s primary role is to ride with Endeavour during next February’s altered STS-123 mission, tasked with carrying the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo), and the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) robotics system to the International Space Station.

**The most comprehensive collection of Shuttle, Ares, Orion and ISS related presentations and mission documentation, plus expansive daily processing documentation and updates are available to download on L2 **

L2: STS-122 to STS-127 documentation already available.

STS-122 L2 Special NOW LIVE. **Click here for sample of L2 menu and content**

**STS-122 Special: 12 MOD Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Presentations, Baselines and Mission Overviews. 17 Shuttle FRR Presentations. Payload Presentations and vast amounts of live, uploaded images and presentations. Installation Movies (several) – already 900 megabytes strong**

**STS-123 Build-up already consists of major baseline presentations. Payload presentations and in-depth processing documentation**

**LIVE updates on Discovery STS-124 Processing**

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-122 Pad Processing**

 **LIVE news updates on Endeavour STS-123 Processing**


The tank is the last ET that required a recovery of its processing efforts at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), with all future tanks on schedule for their designated delivery dates.

Issues with longeron sprays and problems with a series of TPS (Thermal Protection System) pours over the weekend were recovered, allowing for the tank to leave New Orleans on November 25. It was due to arrive on Saturday, but turneed up at KSC on Friday.

‘Expect ET to be in Saturday; if get it on dock Saturday, will lift Sunday, get in test cell and start processing it,’ noted processing information, which supports the required LON timeline, currently showing 66 days worth CSCS (Crew Shuttle Contingency Support) – the amount of days allowed before Endeavour would be required to rescue the STS-122 crew from the ISS.

‘Critical path work is tiles (on Endeavour), so worked on tiles in payload bay door hinge area and main landing gear BRI tile (three remaining to bond there). Will look this week at doing MPS (Main Propulsion System) SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) leak checks and install boom.’

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That boom was swapped from Discovery, following her STS-120 mission, which saw its usefulness pushed to the limit, aiding Scott Parazynski to reach the damaged P6 4B Solar Array during the mission’s fourth spacewalk.

Damage to the OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor Suite) package from thermal limitations – due to being unpowered for hours during the EVA – was avoided. However, it will be challenged once again, after it is left behind on the ISS at the end of the STS-123 mission.

‘The boom that came down on STS-120 has been rigged on STS-123 (OV-105), because it will stay onboard ISS. It will return on STS-124,’ added processing information. STS-124 can’t carry the OBSS uphill due to clearance issues with its huge Pressurized Module of the Japanese Experiment Module payload.

‘To leave the boom on ISS, we worked with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, Ltd. (the Canadian partner) to produce the keep alive umbilical assembly that will take power from ISS to keep the sensors heated until STS-124.

‘Testing will begin early this week, and is a major milestone in preparing for STS-123. Looking forward to getting test results.’

STS-123 will be a four EVA mission, with the allowance for a fifth contingency spacewalk. Interestingly, NASA managers will discuss the possibility of adding the T-RAD (Tile Repair) demonstration to this mission.

‘T-RAD DTO story is coming to PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) Thursday,’ added Stand-up/Integration report information. ‘Last week approved the addition of starboard TSA (Tool Storage Assembly – required for the T-RAD test) to start paperwork to allow installing TSA if it must be on STS-123; this would support bringing hardware back like we planned on previous flight.

‘If whole team with MOD decides not to have TSA on STS-123, this work can be turned off. There is about a 75 pound performance impact to fly TSA.’

Thanks to the successful debut of the SSPTS (Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System) modification on Endeavour during STS-118, NASA managers were able to extend the mission duration for STS-123, allowing for four baselined EVAs, utilized to carry out ‘get aheads’ from STS-124.

Further changes to the mission allowed for the addition of over 4,000lbs of payload to the payload bay sidewalls.

‘Assuming full SSPTS capability and ISS power availability, the ISS Program requested to extend the mission duration in order to accommodate additional tasks that were originally scheduled to occur after STS-123 undocked from ISS, including: ISS rack transfers. ELM-PS activation and reconfiguration. SPDM activation and checkout. Prepare JEM-PM system racks for removal from ELM-PS.

‘Extends the STS-123 mission by two days, from 13+1+2 to 15+1+2, in order to pull activities from the 1J/A stage back into the 1 J/A mission to take advantage of the SSPTS capability. It also adds five new sidewall payloads (SSRMS Yaw Joint, DCSU, BCDU, Misse 6, RIGEX) to the manifest,’ added presentations on the mission.

‘RIGEX – Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special Experiment: The RIGEX system is a self-contained, automated experiment intended to collect data on space inflated and rigidized structures.

‘The experiment consists of three inflatable tubes that transition from structurally stiff to flexible at a transition temperature of 125 degrees C. RIGEX will fly inside the DoD’s Canister for All Payload Ejections (CAPE) attached to the cargo bay sidewall, but does not deploy.

‘MISSE 6 – Materials International Space Station Experiment: The objective of MISSE is to expose materials to the space environment for long durations (12-18 months).

‘The MISSE flight hardware consists of a pair of trays with test specimens mounted inside a reusable Passive Experiment Carrier (PEC) and attached to an ISS WIF. The PEC is a suitcase-like container that transports experiments (test specimens) via the Space Shuttle to and from the ISS.

‘Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Yaw Joint: ISS spare prepositioned to protect against a future failure of an existing SSRMS Yaw Joint.

‘Direct Current Switching Unit (DCSU): ISS spare prepositioned to protect against future failure of an existing DCSU – provides primary and secondary power distribution on ISS.

‘Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU): ISS spare prepositioned to protect against a future failure of an existing BCDU controls the charging and discharging of the power channel batteries on ISS.’

In addition, the mission will carry out an Expedition 16 crew rotation on the ISS, with NASA’s Garrett Reisman replacing ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts.

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