Atlantis delay allows for spacewalk silver lining

by Chris Bergin

While STS-122 refocuses for a January 10 launch attempt, a new ‘next generation’ over-glove design will now ride uphill with Atlantis – thanks to the delay from the December launch target.

All of STS-122’s EVAs were to involve the compulsory use of the over-glove, to protect spacewalkers from wear and team to their EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) gloves. However, the new over-glove will allow for easier dexterous manipulation during the EVAs.

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

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EVA protection:

NASA’s agency-level Flight Readiness Review (FRR) confirmed that all of STS-122’s EVAs will be conducted with the use of the over-glove, following the recent incidences of cut gloves during spacewalks on the International Space Station (ISS).

The over-glove – a sheath-like layer that is worn over the EMU gloves – will avoid the possibility of an EVA being terminated, as seen during STS-118, when Endeavour spacewalker Rick Mastracchio suffered a cut glove incident.

The incident called for the early termination of EVA-3, though the spacewalker was never in any danger. The damage was later confirmed as being caused by ‘contact with a sharp edge.’

Mastracchio’s problem with the damaged EMU glove came during only the second mission since new procedures were brought in for checking the gloves of spacewalkers during an EVA. This came about after damage was seen on Robert ‘Beamer’ Curbeam’s EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) gloves, once STS-116 had landed.

Damage to gloves was also noted on STS-120, requiring spare gloves to be used for later EVAs – including Doug Wheelock and Scott Parazynski’s epic repair effort on the P6 4B solar array, which debuted the over-glove for part of the spacewalk.

The evolution of the over-glove was to be implemented over the coming flights, although this has now jumped forward for STS-122, as noted by shuttle manager Wayne Hale.

‘Received next generation of over-glove design, (and has gone) into NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory) for evaluation,’ noted Hale on the latest Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report. ‘Comments from crew were so favorable of prototypes that they’re trying to get them on STS-122.

‘Medium and large size they had for training units and exposure for STS-122 crew will be walked around and shown to as many crewmembers as they can for STS-122/STS-123 before they go on STS-122. Mr. Hale said this is the silver lining to the launch delay.’

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Troubleshooting Latest:

As to how long Atlantis’ launch will be delayed, January 10 appears to be on track, with flight rationale already built – documentation notes – regardless of the results from Tuesday’s tanking test, called to gain extra data on the ECO (Engine Cut Off) sensors (article will follow).

Work at the pad has proceeded without any hitches, allowing for the call to stations on Sunday evening, prior to the scheduled parking of the RSS (Rotating Service Structure), ahead of what is currently a 7am tanking test on Tuesday.

‘At the pad, everything is secured and payload bay doors are closed. Provided purge to payload before closing doors. Have a window of opportunity for instrumentation installation and would like to finish by 04:00 EST Sunday in order to go into Call to Stations for test at 20:30 on Sunday night,’ added Hale.

‘There will be a pre-test briefing on Saturday for this test. If preparations go well for procedures and requirements, will begin tanking at 07:00 Tuesday morning.’

The amount of work involved behind the scenes has been immense, with information showing that Mr Hale’s efforts included a meeting about the ECO sensor troubleshooting with the US/Russian Stafford-Anfimov Commission, an advisory group of leading experts from Russia and the United States, which evaluates issues of space cooperation.

‘Mr. Hale briefing Stafford-Anfimov Commission on ECO sensors,’ added the Stand-up, which also included a note that the tanking test on Tuesday may be re-scheduled for slightly later in the morning.

‘Asking Mr. (Ed) Mango to begin tank testing later than scheduled on Tuesday morning, because people will be flying down to view the testing. Next week will be busy; nothing is cancelled.’

A full preview to the tanking test, based on several December 13-14 L2 presentations, will follow on Monday.

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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