FRR clears STS-124 for launch on May 31

by Chris Bergin

All flight elements relating to Discovery’s STS-124 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) are cleared to fly on May 31 – as Monday’s agency-level Flight Readiness Review (FRR) drew to a close.

A few outstanding issues will be monitored in the run up to flight, including the evaluation of the Soyuz’s “solid rescue vehicle” status – which will be aided by the early conclusions of the Soyuz TMA-11 ballistic re-entry investigation, prior to STS-124’s launch.

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**STS-124 Sub Section Build-Up – special section Now Live. Now includes over 100mb of Flight Plans, EVA, RNDZ, Ascent etc. Checklists. Mission Overview CGI Videos. Plus 25 Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Presentations.

**STS-125/LON-400 Sub Section Special already over 1300mb in size – special section Now Live.

**LIVE updates: Endeavour Dual LON and STS-126 Processing**

**LIVE updates on Atlantis STS-125 Processing Flow**

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STS-124 FRR:

Monday’s one day FRR – chaired by Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations – follows the two day Space Shuttle Program FRR last week.

Pending the resolution of a few outstanding issues – notably whether to change the mission to include the removal of US astronauts from the Station, which will centre around improved confidence levels in the Russian Soyuz vehicle – Discovery remains on track to achieve the May 31 launch target.

With Russian officials ready to complete their Soyuz TMA-11 investigation prior to the launch of Discovery, US officials are likely to have a review of their confidence levels in time to allow the mission to go ahead as planned.

Otherwise, the remaining issues identified in the lead up to the FRRs are being cleared, with only the ‘CDRA Dessicant/Sorbent Bed R&R’ – the requested changeout and replacement of a CO2 scrubber, which is yet to be delivered to KSC – likely continue through to the L-2 Mission Management Team (MMT) bench review.

STS-124/1J MOD mission preparation is in good shape. No exceptions were identified,’ noted FRR minutes. ‘Will carry one special topic forward to review the plan for airflow and CO2 management.

‘Due to the late addition of the CDRA Dessicant/Sorbent Bed R&R to the mission requirements, final planning for this activity is still pending.’

Discovery’s mission will include early inspections of her TPS (Thermal Protection System) with the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm. This is required, following clearance issues with the OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) and the huge Kibo laboratory that Discovery is carrying.

The previous mission, STS-123 with Endeavour, left the OBSS stowed on the S1 Truss, to await Discovery’s arrival next month. Once docked, the opening EVA will carry out the retrieval of the boom, allowing for any focused inspections to take place.

‘The STS-124/1J mission objectives were summarized, along with the activity for each Flight Day,’ added the FRR minutes. ‘The highest priority mission objectives are to retrieve the OBSS from the S1 Truss.

‘(Other priorities include the) release of the elbow camera launch locks, rotate Expedition 16/17 (Garrettt Reisman) for Expedition 17 (Greg Chamitoff), install the JPM onto the Node 2 Port ACBM, and activate a single JPM power/avionics channel.’

The SSP Flight Readiness Review outlined all the new operations being incorporated into this mission – with several review articles to follow this week.

STS-124 Pad Flow Latest:

Discovery continues to push towards the start of S0007 (Launch Countdown) operations, with Orbiter and SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) hydraulic operations to support hypergolic fuel load operations completed on Saturday, and SRB hydraulics testing continuing Monday.

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A number of issues are being worked at the pad, though this is usual for this stage of the flow.

‘MEQ (Mechanical Systems) airlock B-hatch seal had a third area of minor damage,’ noted processing information on Monday. ‘It was documented with mold impressions and photos. The hatch was closed for flight at 01:30 local on Sunday and a good leak check gave good rationale to accept the seal for flight.

‘FSS (Fixed Service Structure) 107 foot level GSE (Ground Support System) skid drain valve failed to open when commanded. An alternate skid vent valve was used to support fuel loading and there was minimal operational impact to fuel ops.

‘Post hyper load troubleshooting will determine whether the valve is mechanically or electrically failed.’

Testing of the replaced MDM (Multiplexer/Demultiplexer) card (FA2) is still ongoing, following retests over the weekend. This follows last week’s ‘2-1-1 Split’ of Discovery’s General Purpose Computers (GPCs).

‘MDM FA2 retesting continued through Saturday in concert with Orbiter and SRB hydraulic operations,’ added processing information. ‘More retesting is scheduled today (Monday).’

Otherwise, STS-124 remains on track to meet the provisional May 31 launch date, with installation of ordinance on the stack starting on Monday.

‘Orbiter aft closeout operations were worked through the weekend and will continue through Thursday. SSVR (Solid State Video Recorder) retest was completed on Saturday successfully.

‘Lightning protection system checkout scheduled for today. LOX and LH2 dewpoint and conditioning is scheduled for today. Ordinance installation call to stations is planned for 14:00 local today.’

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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