Atlantis in good shape during L-1 – shuttle surge readied

by Chris Bergin

Atlantis remains in a smooth pre-launch flow, as she continues to march towards launch on Thursday afternoon – weather pending. The Rotating Service Structure (RSS) is now being retracted.

The launch will mark the start of a shuttle surge in 2008, with six missions planned. All three orbiters are lining up for action, as processing continues on Endeavour and Discovery in what is hoped to be three launches by the end of April – though STS-124 is under threat of slipping.

**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 **

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

**STS-122 Special: 29 Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Presentations, Baselines and Mission Overviews. **Click here for FRR overview articles: Article 1Article 2** Payload Presentations and vast amounts of live, uploaded images and presentations, movies (several) – already 3100 megabytes strong**

**COMPLETE Section – over 1350mbs of presentations – on ECO/Feedthrough Connector issues and troubleshooting, graphical and data based – expansive.**

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

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

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

STS-122 ECO related news content (all exclusives): *Scrub 1* – *MMT Debate* – *Scrub 2* – *Hale Memo* – *Forward Plan* – *Culprit Found* – *Tanking Test* – *Repair Options* – *MAF Plan**PRCB Debate* – *Plan Approved* – *Repair Schedule* – *Launch Date* – *New Issue* – *Hale Rallying Call* – *PRCB Launch Dates* – *New Connector Installed* – *Positive Test Results* – *Manifest Impacts* – *Optimism with forward plan* – *Flight Rationale* – *Repairs Finalizing* – *Root Cause Confirmed*

STS-122: Hose related news content (all exclusives): *Issue found/fleet to be checked (December)* – *Atlantis found to have problem* – *Managers discuss forward plan* – *Use of pole to aid retract* – *Successful Retraction*


UPDATES: (Wednesday morning):

SSV PIC resistance and S&A device verfications are complete.
PRSD LO2 and LH2 load began yesterday at 1452L and was completed at 1929L, Tuesday.
GN2 to air changeover was completed at 2026L.
SSME final preparations are underway and TSM securing to follow.
OMBUU demates and flight cap installation were complete.
Dock seal deflation completed.

Issues worked: During ECLSS switch configuration, when cabin relief valve B was cycled to Enable, proper talkback indication was not received. Cycled and no longer an issue.

Issues being worked include: SRB aft skirt purge temperature dropped -Troubleshooting began after PRSD loading, with engineering evaluation continuing.

Incident at the pad, when engineer fell of a ladder. Medical Helicopter enroute to pick him up. Worker is not in a serious condition.

The OWP’s are both retracted and triple flips are retracted. RSS retraction will be at 6pm local. This was delayed by 90 minutes.

RSS now being retracted.


Currently, the weather constraint for launch is around the 70 percent mark, though remains a fluid situation: (For live updates on the weather, *click here*) 

‘A cold front will move into the Central Florida area north of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on launch day. Winds will decrease through the day allowing a sea breeze to develop by launch time,’ an updated document on Wednesday noted.

‘With the convergence along the coast combined with moisture increasing in the atmosphere, there is potential for cumulus clouds, showers, and even an isolated thunderstorm.

‘Thunderstorms are more likely to be inland at launch time and move into the KSC area after launch. Although thunderstorms will be isolated, cool air aloft will provide a possibility of severe weather if a thunderstorm does occur, particularly when a storm interacts with the sea breeze.

‘Our primary concerns for launch day are cumulus clouds, showers, and an anvil from an inland thunderstorm.

Meteorological models are now stalling the front in the area for a few days rather than moving it to the south; therefore, there is an increased chance of showers and ceilings for the 24- and 48- hour launch attempts.’

STS-122 Round-up (Tuesday evening):

On the ground, processing through S0007 (Launch Countdown) remains on track with no issues of importance being noted. LOX/LH2 loading preparations and system purge verifications have already been completed in the flow.

Preparations for PRSD (Power Reactant Storage and Distribution) loading suffered a slight delay due to minor leaks in the GO2 system. However, it is usual for their to be GSE (Ground Support Equipment) leaks during pre-launch flows.

‘The teams continue to march towards a launch. All of the open issues from the delta-FRR (were) closed out at the L-2 MMT meeting Tuesday,’ noted MOD Flight Director Cathy Koerner.

Under intense focus will be the performance of the ECO (Engine Cut Off) sensors during tanking on Thursday morning. The modified LH2 Feed-through connector is believed to be the solution to the issues that caused the delay to the mission from last year. The real test will come on Thursday. 

In preparation, a plan of action has been built, which is based around the 3/4 LCC (Launch Commit Criteria) and the several scenarios that may occur during tanking and the countdown.

‘Ascent Flight Director Norm Knight and his team have followed the ECO system modifications and helped coordinate a response plan for ECO system anomalies, should they reoccur on launch day,’ added Koerner, referencing documentation built at last week’s PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting (presentations on L2).

**Ride home through the fire, sparks and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour. FIVE Stunning high quality 2hr, 355-400mb Camcorder and HUD videos – from payload bay closure – through re-entry with an astronaut held camcorder video – to post landing – several more videos showing landing from 90,000 ft also available and HUD videos from STA landings. Includes HALO II Re-entry video, and re-entry videos from Gemini and Apollo (converted from 8mm)**

Meanwhile fallout from the bent starboard aft radiator retract flex hose – successfully retracted on Sunday night – continues, as Flight Directors draw up contingency plans, should the issue arise during payload bay door closure on orbit at the end of STS-122’s mission.

‘As an added precaution against a radiator anomaly, the team is considering modifying the water plan for this mission,’ Koerner added. ‘The radiator plan for entry is also still being discussed. Entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney is working those details with the EECOM (Emergency, Environmental and Consumables Operation Manager) and EGIL (Electrical, General Instrumentation, and Lighting) teams. Both plans are expected to be finalized this week.’

The plan – now understood to have been approved – to add water to the systems is only a contingency and is not likely to be required. Under flight rules, Should the freon coolant start to leak from the hose, Atlantis will be forced to land at the next available opportunity regardless.

‘Had great integrated team effort across board on radiator retract hose. Team is generating a mod to allow leaving some additional water in tank to provide additional water management margin on orbit in the event of losing a loop (which is not expected),’ added the Orbiter Project Office (OPO) on the latest Standup report.

‘Major emphasis on weekend was verifying the configuration at pad. Have compelling data saying have not launched with the OV-104 (Atlantis) hose in the omega bend; the possibility that it came in during STS-117 exists, but is not likely. Team did enough work to verify we are in leak before burst scenario.

‘Other issue is what should do with hose on entry. Should we isolate as soon as close doors or when commit to deorbit burn? Ops team knows how to manage this, but want to put more engineering behind it and see if can isolate to avoid any cavitation concern. (Manager) said way plan entry now is to isolate after door closure. Will reevaluate as more work is done.

‘(Management) thanked whole team around the country for the outstanding work on this late issue. Glad have come to a place where will feel safe about flying.

‘Leadership on the radiator retract flex hose has been great. Important parts have been communication across the team regardless of organization, and keeping the key folks in the loop. Feedback from USA (United Space Alliance) was that this has been outstanding leadership.’

Additional processing notes through S0007 will be added during Wednesday.


Endeavour is waiting to leave her OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility) for rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) ahead of next month’s STS-123 mission.

Whilst being delayed due to her older sister, work has been continuing on carrying out the LH2 Feed-through connector re-work on her ET (ET-126).

‘(Review) was held yesterday and approval was given for roll over and mate,’ noted Tuesday processing reports. ‘MPS (Main Propulsion System) helium top off is complete. Final switchlist for roll over and final power down were completed yesterday.

‘T-0 disconnects are complete. Final tire pressure checks and top off for flight are complete. Orbiter weight and Center of Gravity checks Tuesday.

‘On ET-126 in VAB, installed internal feedthrough connector, and completed electrical checks after installation. L-M (Lockheed Martin) did first PDL (foam) pour in the cable tray; second PDL will be this week.

‘Wednesday is last planned day of work for the MAF personnel; will have them back when get back to pad and finish work on the ET (tentatively planned for February 22).’


Another milestone for Discovery’s April 24th mission began this week, with the opening activities of booster stacking inside the VAB. Processing of the orbiter is continuing on track, as her TPS (Thermal Protection System) receives work following last year’s STS-120.

‘Have 81 tile cavities remaining; 114 have been bonded; have 195 cavities for total OPF flow,’ noted the latest Standup. ‘Will do engine preps this week, and engines are coming down next week. On RCC panels, have two remaining to install – LH panels 9 and 13. These have been fit checked, and will be installed in coming weeks.

‘Began stacking (Monday) in VAB, starting with LH (Left Hand) aft booster (plan to get three segments up this week).’

Discovery’s ET is the only issue being worked, with its completion date at the Michoud Assembly Facility) undecided, due to drawn out processing work related to the LH2 Feed-through/ECO issues since STS-122’s scrub launch attempts.

‘On ET-128 at MAF, (moved) tank to 420 building Monday. Will take some open work there with them, but the work will proceed in parallel with test, checkout and associated activities,’ noted the Stand-up, with further notes on the NASA HQ’s internal ‘8th Floor News’ confirming production is behind schedule.

‘With all of the recent work being performed on ET-125 (STS-122) and ET-126 (STS-123), the next ET in production (ET-128) has fallen behind in its schedule,’ added the report.

‘The MAF personnel who have been working at KSC on the feedthru connector modifications are scheduled to return to MAF this week and concentrate their efforts on ET-128. It’s expected that with the change in emphasis, they will still meet their delivery milestones.’

The tank, which will debut several new modifications for checkout ahead of the flagship STS-125 mission to Hubble, is believed to be around two weeks down on its schedule, which is threatening the April 24 launch date for Discovery.

Targets will continue to be refined as the program works through the upcoming missions.

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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