STS-122 undergoes pre-FRR examination

by Chris Bergin

A large series of pre-Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs) have been taking place this week, ahead of the December launch of Atlantis and the European Columbus module.

The fourth launch of the year is still on track to make the short December window – pending outstanding stage work on the International Space Station (ISS) – as the “Shuttle Surge” continues its major offensive on completing station assembly.

**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 starts this weekend. **Click here for sample of L2 menu and content**

**STS-122 Mission Documentation Build-Up Surge already in work on L2 – now including 12 MOD Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Presentations – Nov 5, Baselines and Mission Overviews**

**LIVE updates on Discovery STS-120 Post Flight and STS-124 Processing**

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

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

Atlantis/STS-122 Latest:

Processing has continued without issue, as the stacked Atlantis, ET-125 and twin Solid Rocket Boosters undergo final preparations for rollout to Pad 39A early on Saturday morning.

December 6 remains as the launch target for STS-122, although managers are currently monitoring how well stage work progresses on the ISS, with EVA-5 pushed from STS-120 into the schedule of Expedition 16, adding to work that has to be completed before the station is ready to receive Columbus.

STS-122 will also conduct an Expedition 16 crew rotation on the ISS, with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Leopold Eyharts – a French Brigadier General – swapping places with NASA astronaut Daniel Michio Tani, who arrived on STS-120.

‘SSP (Space Shuttle Program) is marching toward December 6, 2007 launch of Atlantis (STS-122). We intend to have all our reviews on a schedule supporting that date,’ noted shuttle manager Wayne Hale on the latest Stand-up/Integration report.

Those ‘reviews’ reference the pre-FRRs which all lead up to the Agency SOMD FRR just days ahead of launch, following the new path debuted with STS-120’s final FRR.

Monday saw the completion of the MOD FRR, which produces the bulk of the documentation outlining mission status, alongside other departments conducting their pre-FRRs, which will eventually head into next week’s SSP FRR – a precursor review ahead of the final launch date decision. (click link for three SSP FRR review articles from STS-120).

‘SSP FRR will be November 13 and 14, 2007 at KSC. Due to Executive schedules, we’re constrained to have the Executive FRR on November 20, 2007,’ added the Stand-up.

No decision will be made on the launch date until the ISS is ready to refine the schedule to show how far their have progressed in preparing the station for Columbus. However, at this stage, a few days delay to the launch date can be expected, although December 6 is still possible – and won’t be ruled out until the SOMD FRR at the earliest.

‘ISS is working hard to do reconfigurations needed between undocking of STS-120 and docking of STS-122. Currently doesn’t look like can make December 6, 2007 by a few days, but may pull this back in,’ added Hale at the Stand-up. ‘We will continue to work toward December 6, 2007 until further notice and keep track of ISS.

‘Cautioned it has been his goal to get STS-122 up and down before Christmas. If launch is December 6, 2007, landing should be December 20, 2007. If there is 3-4 day slip, due to ISS reconfiguration, then it will run closer to the holidays. Our first job is to support ISS, so be ready.’

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As noted by shuttle management at the post landing press briefing for STS-120, the launch window may actually gain a day of flexibility, with the end of the window currently December 13, but with the potential to move into December 14. This was also outlined in Monday’s MOD FRR presentations.

‘Current launch period extends between December 6 through December 13. Constrained by mated beta angle constraint of 65 deg,’ noted the MOD FRR Presentation on Flight Design and Dynamics. ‘December 13 assumes +1 day is used as a docked day. December 14 is a viable launch date if SSP agrees that +1 day will be used post undock.

‘Geminid meteor shower peaks on December 14. Not a constraint to launch window. Monitoring crew activities during launch period.’

By all accounts, the MOD FRR and departmental pre-FRRs have proceeded smoothly, with no major issues outstanding with Atlantis. However, NASA do not take chances with their orbiters, as exemplified by an addition note on the Stand-up, pointing towards a request by the new NASA Chief Engineer, who is asking for more information on how the SSP deal with unexplained anomalies.

‘New NASA Chief Engineer requested discussion of unexplained anomalies (UAs), so Mr. Hale wants two examples of UAs from each Element for FRR next week (a recent UA and an older UA that is still enforced). Include in back-up material a brief description and discussion of why is acceptable. Also need the number of UAs still open in each Element, if feasible.’

STS-122’s FRR process holds the key to the vast amount of pre-flight processing that takes place with an orbiter, as engineers continue to add modifications and flight safety features to the fleet.

For example, this will be the first flight of the ATK-produced BSMs (Booster Separation Motors) flying in the forward section of the SRB. Atlantis will also debut a new ET Umbilical Camera Flash (Sync Cable and Flash), which is an improvement for the ability to collect imagery of the expended External Tank (ET) after separation on orbit, in order to evaluate any foam liberation from the tank.

Debris source mitigation has been worked with OMS Pod Ceramic Inserts Replacement With Bonded FRSI Plugs, while other modifications include ECO (Engine Cut Off) Point Sensor System Wire Separation, as part of the ongoing effort to fully understand the issues relating to the ECO sensors on early Return To Flight missions.

A full round up of the FRR presentations generated this week – and available to download in L2 – will be added to forthcoming articles.

L2 members: All documentation and quotes – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, updated live.

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