Kibo hatch opening complete – unberthing incident evaluation

by Chris Bergin

STS-124’s Flight Day 5 saw several events taking place, including the changeout of a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) bed and a fix for the Russian toilet pump – both of which appear to have been successful.

The highlight of the day was the hatch opening to the newly attached Kibo Module – which is currently the center of evaluations on whether it recontacted Discovery’s payload bay during unberthing on Tuesday.

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STS-124 FD-5 Latest:

Discovery continues to perform extremely well, with no issues in work, and no TPS (Thermal Protection System) damage concerns that hold any constraint for a safe re-entry – leading to yesterday’s MMT (Mission Management Team) being informed there would not be a requirement for a focused inspection.

‘Three items were identified which either exceeded pre-defined screening criteria or for which no criteria exists. Nine items were evaluated using standard procedures/tools, and the following four required additional analysis:

‘Tile is damaged adjacent to NLGD (Nose Landing Gear Door) thermal barrier,’ noted imagery evaluations.

‘Aft fuselage just forward on the body flap. Engine 2 dome heat shield carrier panel tile damage. Unknown protrusion next to RH ET (Right Hand External Tank) door.

‘No focused inspection is required at this time based on the data available from RPM (Rbar Pitch Maneuver) images and FD 2 inspections with the Robotic Arm. Additional work is required to officially closeout the above 13 items.’

OBSS Checkouts:

Flight Day 5’s tasks include the checkout of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), following its handoff to Discovery after several months stowed on the International Space Station (ISS).

The OBSS instrumentation package – which rides on the end of the 50 foot boom – consists of visual imaging equipment, the Laser Dynamic Range Imager (LDRI), and the Laser Camera System (LCS). The post-Columbia modification has sensors that can resolve at a resolution of few millimeters, and can scan at a rate of about 2.5 inches per second.

The tests include checkouts of the sensor suite on the end of the boom, which contains thermal-sensitive equipment. No unexpected errors have been noted during checkouts, mainly thanks to the system only being unpowered – thus lacking use of its heaters – for around 30 minutes during handoff.

Kibo Outfitting and Hatch Opening:

Flight Day 5 tasks include the Installation of a Node 1 airlock check valve, the removal, replacement and return carbon dioxide removal assembly (CDRA) bed number 2, and the outfitting of the Kibo (or Japanese Pressurized Module) laboratory.

‘Perform JPM vestibule outfitting. Activate JPM avionics and power channel B. Enter JPM and take air samples. Transfer JEM robotic arm central control panel rack,’ noted a summary of activities involved with Kibo today.

‘The JEM crew members will terminate the JPM Fine Leak Check this morning before getting into the Vestibule 1 and 2 Outfitting Activities. Vestibule Outfit 1 activities include: Opening the N2 Port Hatch.

‘Removal of 4 CPA’s (Controller Panel Assembly – boxes that drive the CBM, which blocks access to the jumpers). Power and data jumper cable hook-ups. N2 to JPM Pressure Equalization. JPM Channel B Activation will be completed following Vestibule Outfit 1.

‘Vestibule Outfit 2 activities include: Audio and Video Hookup. LTCS (Liquid Thermal Control System) QD Connections. IMV Duct Installation. Environmental System Configurations (Condensate Waste Water, Air Revitalization System, Low Pressure Nitrogen). Ethernet and Wireless Audio Hookup.’

Once Vestibule Outfit 2 is complete, crew members will open the JPM hatch, activate the Aft IMV (Intra-Module Ventilation) fan, and then ingress the JPM.

‘JPM Activation and Setup procedures include Emergency Equipment Prep, Grab Sample Container (GSC), Negative Pressure Relief Valve (NPRV) Checkout, FSE Accumulator Disconnect, Thermal Control Assembly Medium (TCA M) Accumulator Valve Open.

‘Portable Fire Extinguisher (PFE) Inspect, Emergency Lighting Power System (ELPS) Enable, Post Pressure Relief Valve (PPRV) Cap Install, JPM Setup Part 1, and System Laptop Terminal (SLT) and Portable Computer System (PCS) Install.’

The JEM RMS rack will be transferred as the last JEM activity, with the JLP IMV fan an item that must be activated while the crew is in the JLP.

‘Since there is no smoke detection while the module is on the Node 2, the crew performs this task with their Number 1, Sniffing Equipment (nose). The fan must be deactivated when the nose is no longer present in the module.’

Kibo Incident Evaluation: 

Interestingly, evaluations are being carried out on a possible ‘unplanned recontact’ between the Kibo module and Discovery’s payload bay during Flight Day 4.

‘The MER (Mission Evaluation Room) Manager requested the location of the video that was seen of the Japanese Module unberthing,’ noted L2 Flight Day information. ‘It appeared as though the V-guides may have had some unplanned recontact during the unberth.

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The memo went on to note that the crew had a recording of the point of unberthing that is of interest, which was downlinked to engineers on the ground for closer evaluations.

Activities for later in the day including the ISS airlock campout for Mike Fossum and Ron Garan, ahead of Flight Day 6’s EVA-2.

During that spacewalk, Garan and Fossum will install covers and external television equipment on the JPM and remove covers on the Japanese RMS (Remote Manipulator System), which will be deployed on Flight Day 8. The spacewalkers also will prepare for the flight day 7 move of the JLM (Japanese Logistics Module to Kibo).’

STS-124: Middeck Experiments:

While the main area of attention with some elements of the mass media is monotonously focused on the Russian toilet repair, other elements of the STS-124 mission usually fail to gain a mention.

These include the middeck experiments, which are utilized on every mission, helping carry out science in the midst of a major ISS assembly flight.


‘Cell Wall and Resist Wall (CWRW):

A pair of plant experiments utilizing the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) facility.

‘Cell Wall will examine the genes responsible for the construction of the cell wall (rigid outermost layer) in Arabidopsis thaliana (a small plant of the mustard family) in 1g and microgravity conditions; the cell wall of plants plays a crucial role in forming supporting tissues.

‘Resist Wall will examine the role of microtubule-plasma membranecell wall continuum (a collaboration between plant elements to maintain structure) pertaining to gravity resistance in A. thaliana plants; and clarify the mechanism of gravity resistance, which is an essential response for plant development against a gravitational force.

‘Double Coldbag:

A passive low temperature science storage resource for transportation to/from orbit; provides cold conditioning for samples when paired with ISS Cold Enclosure Phase Change Material Augmenting Capsules (ICEPACs).

‘National Lab Pathfinder (NLP):

Commercial payload in support of the National Lab Pathfinder effort. NLP-Vaccine-1B: pathogenetic organisms using spaceflight to develop potential vaccines for the prevention of infections on Earth.

‘Short Duration Bioastronautics Investigation (SDBI):

Integrated Immune: Validate a flight-compatible immune monitoring strategy. Sleep: Study of sleep quality/patterns and activity and light exposure during space flight.’

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