Extra docked day confirmed for STS-122 – EVA-2/Columbus problem

by Chris Bergin

The Mission Management Team (MMT) has approved the addition of one more docked day for STS-122, allowing for extra get-aheads associated with the outfitting of the newly installed Columbus module, which was suffering from activation problems.

Meanwhile, EVA-2 has been completed, with Rex Walheim (EV1) and Hans Schlegel (EV2) tasked with the replacement of the Nitrogen Tank Assembly (NTA) on the International Space Station (ISS).

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Atlantis Status:

The orbiter continues to perform extremely well on orbit, with the final TPS (Thermal Protection System) clearance due today – pending the completion of analysis on one outstanding issue.

‘Review of the Orbiter TPS indicates no issues, although some open work is still being done on the RCS (Reaction Control System) stinger tile. For our purposes there are no operational issues and the OMS blanket has been formally cleared,’ noted MMT information.

‘The port RCS stinger (which fell off the vehicle as an intact tile at T-3.4 seconds) is expected to be cleared today.’

Only a few minor issues are being monitored, many related to visual communications. None are an issue for the mission objectives.

‘The ‘CCTV B&W Video Shows Intermittent Color’ issue was elevated from the funny (problem) list. The digital TV equipment on board are the primary suspects to this problem and troubleshooting will be performed later.

‘One of the video loops (Ch 71) which links the ISS to the Orbiter is down. However, channel 72 is still operational. This is believed to be an ISS issue. Troubleshooting will involve performing a loop-back test from Station thru the Orbiter.’

Showing confidence that the aft radiator retract flex hose is in a good condition and unlikely to leak, the MMT (Mission Management Team) will decide on Thursday if they will approve leaving the freon loop un-isolated for entry.

The hose, which kinked to an Omega shaped bend during payload bay door closure pre-launch, had raised concerns it could leak. This led to a plan to isolate the loop to avoid any potential leak during payload bay door closure ahead of the deorbit burn. This concern appears to have reduced significantly.

Due later today is the decision by the MMT on whether to add one extra docked day to STS-122’s mission. This will allow additional help from Atlantis crew in outfitting the newly added Columbus module.

‘Direction to Ops Team: There are no flight issues outside normal ops. We should expect a decision on the O2 transfer/mission extension question Wednesday,’ pre-empted information late last night.

‘In advance of that we need to have a really clean estimate of the power consumables available, and any other impacts to selecting one path or the other (orbit adjust plans if needed, etc.)’

UPDATE: The decision was approved by the MMT this afternoon.


The primary objective of EVA-2 is to replace the Nitrogen Tank Assembly (NTA) located in the P1 Truss. The current NTA needs to be replaced because the N2 is running low.

The new NTA will be removed from the payload bay and temporarily stowed on CETA cart zenith. The old NTA will be removed from P1 and is temporarily stowed on CETA cart nadir. The new NTA will then be installed on P1, and the old NTA is moved from its CETA cart and stowed on ICC-L for return home.

The new NTA will be retrieved from the payload bay and installed in the truss; the old NTA will be returned to the payload bay for return to Earth. There is also a 50 minute SSPTS (Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System) cable routing activity at the end of the EVA.

‘No significant issues in work. There are no issues going into the EVA,’ noted the MMT, adding the condition of the EMU gloves are acceptable following EVA-1 – which will be in part thanks to recent implementation of the over glove design. ‘Assessment of the EMU gloves indicates both sets from EVA 1 are available for reuse.’

UPDATE: The six hour, 45 minute EVA has since been successfully completed.

Columbus Problem:

The newly added European Space Agency module on the ISS is still waiting to be activated, due to issues with its command path. A forward plan is being worked.

‘Test facilities were activated and a test of the command from scratch command was executed successfully in the test rig. The command from scratch successfully reset the Queue Empty flag to false, IO was then enabled and the commands were issued,’ noted memos on Wednesday.

‘Simultaneously dumps were performed of the MMC command queue, the S-Band Command Queue and the Non Ground command queue. A comparison of the MMC queue to the other two verified that no commands in the MMC queue would be issued to Columbus once IO was established between the C&C and MMC.

‘An emergency ASCB was convened over night and after reviewing the data from the dump review and the test, a command from scratch to the real vehicle was approved.

‘The procedure executed in the test rig was performed on orbit. The command from scratch successfully reset the erroneous flag, however once IO was commanded to enabled to the MMC the flag immediately transitioned back to the off nominal signatures (command queue full and command queue empty simultaneously).

‘At this point we are standing down to reconsider a forward plan.’

UPDATE: By 19:00 CST/02:00 CET, all of Columbus’ core systems are successfully activated, following further troubleshooting. 

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