EVA-1 and JLP installation completed – Endeavour’s TPS cleared

by Chris Bergin

STS-123’s EVA-1 – the opening spacewalk of the mission – has been completed, while the Shuttle Robotic Manipulator System (SRMS) arm has relocated the newly arrived JLP to Node 2, as it officially becomes part of the Station.

Engineers on the ground – who evaluated the many hundreds of Rbar Pitch Maneuver (RPM) images – have also cleared the vehicle from requiring a Focused Inspection (FI).

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Troubleshooting and forward plan created for the SPDM ‘Dextre’ following software patch get well failure. Presentations on L2. New article will follow in a few hours.

TPS Evaluations:

RPM images, downlinked from the ISS during Flight Day 3, have been evaluated, though the Mission Management Team (MMT) were already looking at one specific area – the OMS Pods.

‘Tile is damaged on Right OMS Pod x3, Tile is damaged on Left OMS Pod x1 – yellow risk, under review,’ noted the MMT Flight Day 3 Debris/TPS Tracking Matrix. ‘Protruding Gap Filler x2, Tile Coating Loss Outboard SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine 3.’

However, by Flight Day 4’s MMT, the TPS was all but cleared for re-entry, in one of the fastest turnarounds of an orbiter heatshield since Return To Flight modifications to the process was brought on line.

‘No Focused Inspection is required! Reported the Tile looks great (as expected),’ noted a MMT memo sent out on FD4.

‘As far as RCC, due to a small damage area seen on the Arrowhead from the RPM photos (previous repair location) the TPS has been classified as ‘Degraded’ per the rules but the RCC folks expect to officially clear it by tomorrows (FD5) MMT.’

Though not a concern for damage, due to the timing of the event, the T+10 second event – first revealed by this site – has been cleared from being an impact on the orbiter. Though it is still not know what the object is, video of the incident has been evaluated to show it passed behind the shuttle during early ascent.

‘Single piece of light colored debris observed forward of launch vehicle, travelling aft. The debris does not appear to originate from the vehicle. Originally this debris was thought to possibly impact the Orbiter nose near jet F3F at the same time as Tyvek cover F2F releases,’ noted MMT information.

‘Upon further analysis, believes the object passes behind the Port SRB and does not come near the Orbiter. MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center) also believes the object does not impact the Orbiter. Assessments from other ground cameras (including film) are in work.’

STS-123 Latest:

The mission is proceeding smoothly, with only two new issues being evaluated by shuttle engineers – one of which being an expected condition with no further work required.

‘APU 3 (Auxiliary Power United) Seal Cavity Decay: IFA (In Flight Anomaly) from STS-118. Small leak in APU 3 drain line is an expected condition for this flight,’ noted orbiter information on Thursday, before noting the Trajectory Control System (TCS) had an issue during docking, and may require monitoring during undocking.

‘TCS Laser Dropped Lock: During the manual phase of the rendezvous, the Trajectory Control Sensor (TCS) Continuous Wave (CW) laser dropped lock on the target. This caused loss of TCS data for the RPM and TORVA initiation.

‘The manual acquisition procedure was used to reacquire lock. At this time it is not known if this is expected to occur during undock and fly around.’

The SSPTS (Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System) has been activated, which will allow for refined consumables status. Currently, those figures are showing positive margins, with ‘1 day 10 hrs (non-SSPTS power levels) – L/O margins 1 day 8 hrs. 2 days 14 hrs (SSPTS power levels) – L/O margins 2 days 7 hrs – O2 Limited,’ above the 16+1+2 limitations.

EVA-1 has been completed – lasting seven hours and a one minute.

The major objectives completed included preparing for JLP unberthing in cargo bay; installing OTCM2 with the Node-2 PDGF-based SSRMS, removing and installing OTCM1 (with SSRMS); prepararing for SPDM assembly, leaving thermal covers intact; (5) cleanup and ingress.

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