STS-127: Endeavour’s crowded mission to complete Kibo

by Chris Gebhardt

Planning for Endeavour’s STS-127 mission – which will complete assembly of the Kibo Laboaratory complex – has already begun.The mission, currently targeted for launch in April 2009, will see Endeavour launch with a complex array of payloads that will require a 15 day mission with five baselined EVAs. Aside from installing the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEM-EF), Endeavour’s crew will be tasked with replacing six batteries on the P6 truss.

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Completing Kibo:

With the Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) scheduled for launch aboard Discovery (STS-124) in less than one month, the module’s Exposed Facility is one step closer to permanently joining its parent module on the International Space Station (ISS).

Taking center stage in Endeavour’s crowded Payload Bay will be the JEM-EF and the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module – Exposed Section (ELM-ES). Once at the Station, crewmembers will conduct an EVA to install the JEM-EF to the JEM-PM.

A subsequent EVA will see astronauts install the ELM-ES to the JEM-EF and transfer three payloads to their on-orbit home on the JEM-EF.

‘Deliver ELM-ES to JEM-EF and transfer ICS-EF (Inter-Orbit Communication System – Exposed Facility), SEDA-AP (Space Environment Data Acquisition equipment – Attached Payload), and MAXI (Monitor of All Sky X-ray Image) to JEM-EF,’ noted the 35 page PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) STS-127 baselined presentation available on L2.

Following the transfer of these three payloads, the ELM-ES will be transferred back to Endeavour’s Payload Bay for return to Earth.


Additional Payloads:

In addition to the JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) payloads, the remaining bays of Endeavour’s Payload Bay will be filled with a variety of payloads for not only the Station, but also the Department of Defense and the Johnson Space Center Engineering Division.

After the Kibo activities are complete, the crew will turn their attention to replacing six batteries on the P6 truss. These batteries will ride up-hill on the Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD).

After maneuvering the ICC-VLD to the Station’s truss, astronauts will remove and replace six batteries on the P6 truss. Once removed, the old batteries will be stowed on the ICC-VLD.

Also hitching a ride on the ICC-VLD are the LDU (Linear Drive Unit), PM-2 (Pump Module-2), and the SGANT (Space to Ground Antennae) – all of which will be transferred to ESP-3 (External Stowage Platform-3) during an EVA.

As with the ELM-ES, the ICC-VLD will be returned to Endeavour’s Payload Bay for return to Earth at the end of the mission.

In addition to these ISS-bond payloads, Endeavour will also carry two sidewall mounted secondary payloads which will be deployed in the post-undock timeframe.

One of these payloads is the Canister for All Payload Ejection/Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment-2 – also known as CAPE/ANDE-2 – for the US Department of Defense. CAPE/ANDE-1 was deployed by the STS-116 crew in December 2006.

The second sidewall payload will be SSPL/DRAGONSAT (Space Shuttle Picosat Launcher/Dual RF Autonomous GPS On-Orbit Navigator Satellite) for the Johnson Space Center Engineering Division, notes the PRCB document.


Payload Support Equipment:

In order to accommodate these unique payloads, which collectively utilize every bay in Endeavour’s Payload Bay, engineers will incorporate several pieces of hardware as well as changes to the payload retention system.

To provide power to the ELM-ES’ and ICC-VLD’s payloads during flight, two PPSUs (Payload Power Switching Units) will be installed.

‘Power is routed to the ELM-ES via PPSU #1. Power is routed to the ICC-VLD via PPSU #2,’ added the PRCB presentation.

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Once these payloads are removed during the mission’s EVAs, spacewalkers will store the cables used to transfer power from the PPSUs to the payloads in two EVA Cable Stowage Hardware (ECSH) boxes attached to bays 5 and 13 of the Payload Bay.

‘Bay 5 supports JEM-EF LTA cable stowage. Bay 13, supports ICC-VLD LTA cable stowage,’ noted the baseline presentation.

Further modifications involve changes to the payload retention system. ‘The existing Orbiter payload retention system is capable of commanding up to 15 latch control functions from the AFD (Aft Flight Deck). STS-127 (2J/A) requires 18 active latches.

‘Parallel latching consists of routing power, control and position feedback lines from a single source to two separate latches. (Therefore), two latches are operated as a single latch.’ Both the JEM-EF and the ELM-ES will use the parallel latching concept.

With this modification, orbiter active latch control capability will increase to 19, one above the mission requirement.


Payloads of Opportunity:

The final element of the STS-127 baseline includes mention of two ‘payloads of opportunity’ for the Department of Defense.

Both the MAUI (Maui Analysis of Upper Atmospheric Injections) and SEITE (Shuttle Engine Ion Turbulence Experiment) are baselined in the middeck complement and require no flight hardware.

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