Shuttle management decide against OMS Pod repair

by Chris Bergin

The protruding blanket on the starboard OMS Pod has been cleared, following over 24 hours of evaluations by the analysis team that calculated there to be no risk to the vehicle during re-entry.

Meanwhile, STS-122’s Flight Day 6 has seen the crew enter the newly attached Columbus module for the first time – with the official ceremony set for Thursday – as the shuttle surge continues to expand the International Space Station.

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STS-122 TPS Latest:

Monday saw the recommendation that an EVA would be required to staple down the unstitched blanket, pending evaluations by the analysis team on the ground.

Those evaluations have concluded, with the removal of the requirement to carry out a two hour element – added to a future EVA – on the Pod, which was initially aimed at reducing any additional processing work on the orbiter once back inside the OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility).

‘RH OMS Pod Blanket analysis is substantially complete. The team expects a repair will not be required,’ noted information on Tuesday morning. ‘The analysis will be briefed at the OPO (Orbiter Project Office) telecon today.

‘The tile damage noted around windows 3 and 4 are also expected to be cleared today. The LH OMS Pod Stinger tile is still under analysis.’

Those meetings – some of which are on-going – have already officially cleared the OMS Pod for re-entry, with all other TPS elements soon to follow.

Interestingly, only 17 items required further evaluation, pointing to STS-122 being the cleanest flight since the post-RTF (Return To Flight) modifications to checking the orbiter heatshield were implemented. 

FD6 MMT Meeting:

No major issues are being worked by the Mission Management Team (MMT) following their meeting on Flight Day 6.

Atlantis has good cyro margins, 25 hours above the current 12+0 mission timeline, which is inclusive of minimum impact powerdowns. Middeck transfers are going well, along with the current transfer of 25lbs of Nitrogen – to become a total of 35lbs by the end of the Flight Day.

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Outstanding at present is the decision on leaving Atlantis docked to the ISS for an extra day. The trade study relates to how much additional work that can be performed, versus transferring space oxygen on to the station.

‘O2 Transfer vs. Additional Docked Day Assessment: MOD supporting IMC’s assessment of trade study of O2 transfer versus second docked day,’ noted the FD6 MMT presentation.

‘Provided detailed planning data yesterday concerning the amount of additional work that crew can accomplish with an additional docked day. MOD support of this assessment is complete. Awaiting IMMT decision.

‘H2O Dump Plan Water dump plan finalized and documented in a Flight Note along with data on associated attitude maneuvers and other systems reconfiguration. Engineering teams reporting no issues following analysis of plan.

The decision on O2 Transfer will be required by Wednesday, with Flight Day 8’s water dump duration dependent on the outcome.

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