STS-122: Hale calls for patience and positivity ahead of crucial period

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle manager Wayne Hale has called for patience, as engineers focus on solving STS-122’s LH2 Feed-through connector problems. A crucial set of test results are being collated from the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) – which will provide the basis for the go-ahead for the installation of a replacement connector into ET-125 later this week.

At the same time, the program is already working towards rolling out Endeavour – ahead of STS-123 – pre-empting a run of six missions in 2008.

**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 2100 megabytes strong**

**COMPLETE Section on ECO/Feedthrough Connector issues and troubleshooting, graphical and data based – expansive.**

**LIVE updates on Atlantis STS-122 Troubleshooting Latest**

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

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

**Click here for FRR overview articles: Article 1Article 2**  – Click *HERE* for all our articles on the STS-122 ECO/Feedthrough Connector issue.

Launch Date Latest: 

Hale was addressing his workforce for the first time since the holidays – a period in which a number of External Tank related engineers worked through, due to the continuous work on ET-125 troubleshooting – both on and off site.

‘The team worked the whole holiday period and this past weekend on this problem. We ought to be cheering them on because they are doing important stuff for this Program,’ noted Hale on the latest Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report. ‘We will get flying again, and have a busy year, and get all our international partner laboratories up this spring.’

Hale also added his voice to the launch date – or lack thereof – situation, by calling for patience, as they work at a ‘deliberate speed’ to fix the ET problem, ahead of what will be a re-alignment of the shuttle manifest.

‘Don’t have a good schedule to work to yet. We issued a ‘work to’ date of January 24, which is not an official launch date. John Shannon tried to make the media understand they should not say this is an official launch date. Working with all deliberate speed to get this fixed as quickly as we can.

‘We’ll firm this date up, look at the rest of the manifest and how we layout with Soyuz and ATVs. Just stand by and have a little patience. Folks are working very, very hard.’

Should a tanking test be required on ET-125, or if work pushes STS-122 later into February, ISS program manager Mike Suffredini added: ‘Progress launch is on February 7 and docking is February 9. If Shuttle launch drifts much more, will need to talk as a team on where to put Shuttle. Once the date is firmed up, it will be easier to talk to the Russians.’

MSFC Test Results:

Wednesday should see the opening set of results from the testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) on the removed ET-125 external LH2 Feed-through connector, as the effort heads into the PRR (Production Readiness Review) stage.

This is key to giving the go-ahead for the installation of the replacement connector into ET-125 at the pad, the start of a process that will hopefully end with Atlantis being brought back into a launch posture early in February. It is also expected to contain results from tests on the cracked glass issue.

‘There will be a Production Readiness Review on Wednesday, and they should be able to install that hardware on the pad on Thursday,’ added the Stand-up.

‘Back shop activities have completed the hardware for ET-125, a couple of qualification units, and a first part verification article. The team has walked through a series of rigorous acceptance tests, and is in the process of doing those before going forward with the moisture proofing activity needed.’

‘The team at MSFC is working very hard to support all the activities reported earlier. Used the STS-120 feedthrough hardware to set up for test, and replicated the conditions they want precisely. Will test using the hardware removed from the vehicle on the pad very soon.’

Wednesday morning update: ‘Replacement hardware was undergoing moisture proofing yesterday. The hardware is expected to be ready for installation 2nd shift today following results of the ET-125 hardware off-line cryo testing,’ added processing information, pointing towards the potential of a day advance on the process.

‘Tank venting is planned for late 2nd shift today with feedthru connector replacement to follow.’

Wednesday evening update: Testing of the new connector is continuing. Installation now Thursday ‘at the absolute earliest.’

Atlantis Latest:

Apart from the ongoing work with the tank, everything else with Atlantis/STS-122 appears to be well. United Space Alliance (USA) engineers are still being kept busy, however, due to the length of time Atlantis has now been sat out at the pad. This is requiring a review of what flight elements require re-testing ahead of launch.

‘Looking at some time and cycle issues for some hardware on vehicle. This will be out at the pad for a longer period of time than originally planned. Looking at that hardware to see what needs to be retested,’ added Hale on the Stand-up.

‘Overall, the Orbiter and other flight elements are in pretty good shape, and do not have any issues to get to the next launch attempt.

‘Last Friday, got go ahead to R&R ATVC 2; did that this weekend. Also completed the Orbiter hydraulic retest that needed to be completed after that box was replaced. Planning to do SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) hydraulics retest on Wednesday.’

‘Since the decision was made to replace the ATVC controller at the pad and get into the hydraulics, they took this as opportunity to repeat their on-pad SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) Flight Readiness Test,’ added Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne/KSC.

‘Those were all conducted on Sunday with hydraulics up. The data all looks good. That gets us back into a position to support the next launch attempt.’

The ATVC (Ascent Thrust Vector Control) box changeout is currently undergoing re-testing and monitoring, following the issues with the commanding of the Right Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Rock Actuator. The replacement box was the last available flight ready spare at KSC.

‘ATVC S/N 24 was used in the R&R activity for the vehicle this weekend. This was the last good spare that was tin whisker cleaned,’ noted USA Logistics. ‘The next box in flow is S/N 19. It has been cleaned, passed vibe testing, passed thermal testing and will have its final functional bench test this week. With the completion of these tests, and case file review, it will be the next spare.’

Endeavour/STS-123 Latest:

Now that STS-123 has been delayed from its original launch date in February, Endeavour remains sat in her OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility) – waiting for her older sister to head uphill.

Regardless, managers are planning ahead, setting preliminary processing targets such as mating ET-126 – which is also undergoing LH2 Feed-through connector R&R – with STS-123’s SRBs, and a potential rollover targets.

‘In OPF, for internal planning, have a January 30, 2008 ready to roll date. Working to a NET January 19, 2008 ET mate date. Scheduling the work with these two dates in mind,’ noted the Stand-up.

‘Completed the positive pressure test and landing gear functional last week. Got the PLBDs (Payload Bay Doors) open. Working to set up camera views to verify that when close PLBDs, can watch radiator retract hose to ensure it operates properly. No issues on rolling out of OPF.

‘In VAB on ET-126, did the TPS trims and removal of foam and cover to get to the feedthrough connector. Stopped short of the PDL removal around the connector. It was in a little different configuration than what was seen on ET-125. Stopped, and are looking for some help from Lockheed-Martin.’

Endeavour will be carrying the first module of the Japanese laboratory, Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo), and the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, (SPDM) Dextre robotics system to the station. However, when that will take place remains the open question.

‘Don’t have new date for the STS-123 Orbiter Rollout Mate Review. When we are ‘Go’ for ET/SRB mate, they’ll be able to establish the date for the review.’

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