STS-122: Countdown begins amid high praise for engineering effort

by Chris Bergin

STS-122 is counting down for launch, as Atlantis attempts to make a comeback from Engine Cut Off (ECO) sensor system issues that caused the delay to the mission from late last year.

The superb engineering effort – involving the replacement and redesign of the LH2 Feed-through connector hardware – has earned high praise for the External Tank engineers that have played a major role in turning around STS-122 back into a launch posture.

**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*


The ultimate test of the newly soldered pins inside the connector will come during tanking on Thursday, though confidence – via extensive testing – is high.

However, weather on the first launch attempt is currently not cooperating with launch requirements, though Friday appear more favorable. (For live updates on the weather, *click here*) 

Praise for the turnaround of the problem was sent to the ET engineering community from shuttle manager Wayne Hale, who conveyed the congratulations of the entire NASA management team.

‘I just wanted to pass on the congratulations from Bill Gerstenmaier, Mike Griffin, and the rest of the NASA HQ leadership on a job well done,’ noted Hale. ‘Everyone was impressed by the thoroughness and professionalism that the team has demonstrated in resolving the ECO problems.

‘Let me add my thanks to that! Well done! Please pass the word to all involved on how pleased everyone is with the results of this effort!’

The e-mail was prefaced by the highly regarded Wanda Sigur, vice president, External Tank Project at Lockheed Martin’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans.

MAF’s work, along with the associated Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), among others, was integral to all elements of resolving the ECO sensor system issue, which is just another example of their efforts since Return To Flight.

‘Over the last number of years we have had to work through a string of successive crises. Each one requires focus, new ideas, incredible energy, tireless support and sometimes unbelievable patience,’ noted Sigur. ‘We need to resolve our problems – in a fishbowl – while making sure a complex customer set remains engaged and comfortable with our actions.

‘You should all know that I think your efforts are consistently exemplary, but what you should also share with your teams is that our customer feels the same way. Please share the feedback (from Wayne Hale) with your troops.’

**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)**

Back at Pad 39A, engineers are currently working no serious issues, with the final major hurdle – the retraction of a kinked starboard aft radiator retract flex hose – successfully completed during payload bay door closeout last night.

‘Approval was given at the Noon Board to utilize a newly developed tool to help guide the radiator retract flexhose back into the retract assembly during PLBD closure. The radiator retract flexhose was making contact with the payload v-guide when the original discrepancy was discovered,’ noted processing information on Monday.

‘The v-guide is used to for contingency-only operations to reberth the payload on orbit. A spare v-guide was modified to machine off the small area where the flexhose could potentially make contact. Yesterday, this spare v-guide was installed on 3rd shift and the PLBD closure was completed on 2nd shift.

‘The right-hand door closure used 8 incremental movements for a total of 56.9 seconds of travel. After each movement, the aft hose was adjusted and seated in place utilizing the HAT (Hose Assist Tool). The team was satisfied with the final placement of the hose at door closure.’

Call To Stations (CTS) for the launch countdown occurred 30 minutes prior to the giant clock at the viewing area at KSC started to tick down, as STS-122 headed through the complex ballet of S0007 with no ‘Cat I’ issues.

50 ‘Cat II’ issues remained as of Monday, though this is normal – mainly GSE (Ground Support Equipment) leaks – and none are a constraint to launch.

Other elements that have been completed include: S0071 Hyper/MPS pressurization for flight operations: (Call to stations was accomplished on Friday at 1600.
o Initial pressurization was completed at 0155L on Saturday. Final pressurization was completed at 1718L on Saturday).

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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