STS-122: Hose resolution approved – involves a long pole

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle managers have been presented with solutions that approve Atlantis’ starboard aft radiator retract flex hose to fly as-is, though the upcoming payload bay door closure for flight – NET Sunday – will be the key event to ensure STS-122 remains on track for February 7.

X-Ray results and leak checks on the hose show the Omega bend has not caused any damage of note, while a plan is being drawn up that involves an engineer guiding the hose back into its box via a long pole.

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Daily PRCB meeting has started. Managers are discussing the forward plan and are expected to approve the continued push towards the Feb 7 launch date. (Pending successful hose retract).

PRCB ends. Approval to continue towards launch, pending how Monday goes with the payload bay door closure. A engineer to be flown in to Florida to conduct the hose retract (with a long pole/stick).

OPO clear Fuel Cell 2 for flight.
All Presentations now on L2.

PLBD Closure now NET Sunday. Tech using the pole/stick is from the United Space Alliance, not Boeing – tech went to Boeing in California to practise, before being flown back for the PLBD closure.

STS-122 Pre-Launch Flow Latest:

The bend, first since on sister ship Discovery, required leak checks to ensure it wasn’t – or had the potential of – leaking its freon coolant, which would be undesirable during the upcoming mission.

Test results show the hose is in reasonably good shape, which is a major boost to the approval of flight rationale.

The other option available to managers – R&R – would likely involve rollback, destack, and removal of the hose in Atlantis’ Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) – adding a two month delay to the launch. R&R at the pad would take a month.

‘Making good progress on radiator retract hose. Working with KSC team on a couple of different options in terms of rollback and R&R at the pad. Rollback option to R&R would impact launch by a couple of months,’ noted the latest Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report.

‘R&R at the pad doesn’t look very feasible and would be a challenging task. It is challenging to do in the OPF as it is and takes 30 days, so looking at a month’s slip if could determine how to do work at the pad.

‘Over last 48 hours, have been focusing on fly as-is option as the primary work. Will remove V-guide to avoid contact. Preliminary indications were that there was no evidence of significant damage to flex hose.

‘Discussed options and converged to what they think is easiest option, which is to gradually work hose back into box. Team going to Huntington Beach today to test OV-103 hose, which has a similar Omega bend.’

Test results, noted on processing information Friday morning, continued the positive theme that the hose appears to be in good shape, despite its shape, with no sign of damage that would be a concern to engineers.

‘Aft STB PLBD retract hose (update) – X-rays show the retract hose is in good condition. Inspections of the hose exterior found the braid to be slightly damaged (about 1-2 inches in length of distorted braids with 2 broken strands visible), but acceptable. No Freon leakage was detected,’ noted the processing information.

‘Boeing engineering at Huntington Beach is assessing techniques for assisting hose retraction during PLBD closure. The IPR (Interim Problem Report) is scheduled to be briefed to the Daily PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) today.’

While everything appears to be pointing towards managers being presented with good rationale to fly as-is, the key event will be payload bay closure on Monday, which will ultimately see how the hose retracts back into its box.

To ensure the hose retracts properly, plans are being drawn up that may employ an engineer holding a 15 foot or so long pole, with a U-shaped fitting on the end. This would be used to help guide the hose back into the box.

This plan is still being refined due to the problematic nature of then removing the pole just prior to the closure of the payload bay door.

‘Using techniques to work that hose back into radiator retract hose box. Don’t have a schedule yet on how would access this work at pad,’ added the Stand-up. ‘Once determine this, will know if can support February 7 launch date or not.’

Managers are expected to overview the latest data on the hose on Saturday, via a teleconference – headed by KSC manager Leroy Cain.

Further updates on the hose issue will be added to the article as they arrive.

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Meanwhile, processing has continued on the timeline, with only one issue being monitored. This relates to Fuel Cell 2, which had been showing intermittent problems during the STS-122 pre-launch flow. Those problems continue, though they are not serious enough to be a constraint to launch at this time.

‘Fuel cell 2 was discussed at Delta FRR and OPO (Orbiter Project Office) Tag-Up. Have confirmed it is a small in spec leakage. Recommendation from OPO Tag-Up was to continue watching this but fly as is,’ added the Stand-up.

‘Not sure where it is leaking exactly, but it is in spec. Do have right hazardous gas monitoring in place. If the leak was to increase, they can detect it.’

Otherwise Atlantis is in a smooth transition towards the start of S0007 (Launch Countdown) early next week, pending the approval to fly the bent hose as-is, and its successful retraction during payload bay door closure.

‘Call to stations for S0071 Hyper/MPS pressurization for flight operations scheduled for Friday at 2000L,’ noted Friday processing information. ‘Initial pressurization scheduled to begin 0200L Saturday. Final pressurization scheduled to begin 0030L Sunday.

‘S1287 Orbiter Aft closeout was completed yesterday. The 50-1/2 doors were installed and the Aft confidence test was completed successfully.

‘The 50-2 door had to be removed post confidence test to allow PVD engineering to reperform leak checks of the PLB purge duct at the proper pressure. The leak checks were good and the door was reinstalled.

‘Weekend Work: S0071 Hyper/MPS pressurization, S0007 preps continue, and work associated with (the hose).’

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