ET-127 mated to Atlantis’ boosters – JSC closed due to storm

by Chris Bergin

Another milestone in STS-125’s processing flow has been achieved, with the mating of External Tank ET-127) to the twin Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs).

Meanwhile, shuttle managers have been informed that NASA holds enough confidence in the Russian solution to the recent Soyuz issues, that a back-up plan – to utilize Endeavour’s STS-126 mission for removal of ISS members from the Station – has been “turned off” – and JSC closed at noon Monday due to Tropical Storm Edouard.

**The most comprehensive collection of Shuttle, Ares, Orion and ISS related presentations and mission documentation, plus expansive daily processing documentation and updates are available to download on L2 **

**Click here for sample of L2 menu and content**

**STS-125/LON-400 L2 Sub Section Special already over 1750mb in size – special section Now Live, with over 40 superb mission presentations. STS-125 Flight Plan (newly created) and Flight Data Files now uploaded. Mission Overview in CGI videos building up – starting with payload overviews. STS-400 Flight Plan. STS-400 EVA and mission overview Presentations (14). Daily extensive processing latest.
(Large documentation surge this week – articles will follow).

**L2 STS-126 in build-up – includes three mission baseline presentations. One Stop SARJ Shop (memo, presentations) etc.**

**STS-124 Post Flight – STS-119 Processing Latest** — **STS-124 News Articles**

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

**LIVE updates on Atlantis STS-125 Processing Flow** — **STS-125 News Articles**

JSC closed:

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston has closed due to the threat of Tropical Storm Edouard – which may grow into a Cat 1 hurricane.

The center is likely to be closed until at least Wednesday, following a ‘SyREN’ notice, that was issued to the workforce. However, the Mission Control Center (MCC) and real-time operations will not be stopped – with teams working 12 hour shifts via reduced manning.

Atlantis STS-125 Procesing Latest:

Despite the slight delay to the start of scheduled S0003 (ET/SRB Mate) operations – caused by the need for two slight repairs to the tank – Atlantis and STS-125 remain on track for an early October launch date – a date which managers hope they can advance a few days.

The tank was moved out of the checkout cell inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) following two repairs – the first to a GH2 2 inch disconnect valve, followed by work on the Helium inject line assembly – and hard mated at 21:34 on Sunday.

‘ET/SRB Mate was performed. The Tank is hard mated to the SRBs. The Forward Separation Bolt installation is in work. Platform Ops. and closeouts will pick up today (Monday).’

Atlantis herself is undergoing final processing ahead of her August 18 rollover to the VAB for mating with the stack.

‘Aft structural leak checks and crew compartment positive pressure test are scheduled to complete today,’ added Monday processing information, which included updates on the two minor elements of troubleshooting.

‘The MTU (Master Timer Unit) was removed from the vehicle. Run 2 of the UHF system checks are complete – the UHF Radio initially indicated the proper 115-120 dbm and then unexpectedly dropped to lower limits.

‘No further troubleshooting for these IPRs (Interim Problem Report) is planned. The current plan is to disposition the IPRs to ‘use-as-is.’

‘The aft 50-1 and 50-2 doors were installed over the weekend. The aft compartment is closed out for rollover.’

Away from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), teams continue to refine the objectives they will carry out on a mission, inside the simulators at the Johnson Space Center (JSC).

The amount of effort put into simulations for the astronauts, controllers and support teams was in evidence via a Flight Operations note on a ‘full court press’, following a problem with one of the simulators.

‘Had problems with payload model where instructor put in temperature bias that was outside the cal curve and it out-termed the simulator. They recovered, and when malfunction was put back in, it out-termed again,’ noted the information.

‘At that point, determined the problem and green carded it, but there was minor disruption to flow. Later that day, had a silicon graphics computer crash, and had to recover from it. Impact was minor. Also, was unable to flow HST hi-rate data (at the time) due to problem with model in simulator.

‘Had a full court press starting early and went to 10:30 pm. Recovered from data flow problem by reverting to previous load. Back on track that morning. Should be able to meet all objectives.’

Out at Pad 39A, repair work to the Flame Trench’s damaged walls has passed through the major effort of applying fondue fyre concrete into the structure. Work has also been taking place on the damage concrete on the north slope.

Hydro blasting of the walls is now completed, following the Fondu Fyre re-application effort, which was complete on Friday. Engineers are still hoping to have some of the sensors into the pad in time for STS-125 – with a full set installed ahead of STS-126.

‘Went inside the pad and saw area on backside of deflectors,’ noted one manager – revealing the location of the new sensor packages – on the Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report, ‘where they’ll be mounting the sensors.

‘Folks working the flame trench activity are doing extremely well. They’re ahead of where they thought they’d be.’

Endeavour STS-400/STS-126 Processing Latest:

Endeavour, in a near-parallel processing flow with Atlantis – due to STS-400 requirements – has no issues in work inside OPF-2 (Orbiter Processing Facility).

Recent milestones include the completion of the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), as a series of checks take place on her Nose Landing Gear (NLG) this week.

‘CEIT is complete. ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) GN2 servicing and top off preparations continue for a call-to-stations tomorrow,’ added Monday processing information.

‘The APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) gear box 48 hour decay test will be performed today. NLG hydraulic level checks are complete. The NLG strut 48 hour pressure decay checks and pressurization for flight will be performed today.’

The Pegasus barge has now arrived back at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), in time to pick up Endeavour’s tank (ET-129), which is currently gaining back a few days on its completion date.

**New L2 Trailer Video, with examples of L2 content – TRAILER NOW AVAILABLE – CLICK IMAGE**. **Includes FIVE Stunning high quality 2hr, 355-400mb Camcorder and HUD videos, with crew audio – from payload bay closure – through re-entry with an astronaut held camcorder video – to post landing – several more videos showing landing from 90,000 ft also available and HUD videos from STA landings.

This is an important element of aiding the advancement of the launch dates for STS-125 and STS-126 – in order to aid Endeavour’s launch window.

‘ET-129: Working last of production efforts. Completion date looks to be August 8. Critical path runs through electrical/mechanical work. Not working any major issues.’

Also under discussion of late has been ET-122 – the tank that was damaged when Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans facility. Subsequently removed from the shuttle manifest, the tank has remained storage at MAF.

However, the tank may gain a new lease of life, with the potential refurbishment/repair of the tank on the cards: ‘Will discuss ET-122 and a couple of options regarding this with Shuttle manager (John) Shannon,’ noted Marshall Space Flight Center’s External Tank project.

ET-122 could be used as the LON (Launch On Need) tank for the potential STS-134 mission in mid 2010. MAF already have a ‘spare’ tank being constructed, primarily as a back up – in case one upstream tank suffers a major production issue.

Endeavour’s ISS ‘evac’ plan stood down:

Back with Endeavour’s upcoming STS-126 mission, managers also noted that a back-up plan, related to the recent problems with the Russian Soyuz, has been ‘turned off’.

The plan, which is based around due diligence – had the confidence in the Soyuz remained ‘open-ended’ – would have involved the capability for Endeavour to bring home ‘the full Soyuz crew’ along with her own STS-126 crew.

Such a capability exists with the orbiters, with additional recumbent seats added to the middeck. This plan is similar to a LON scenario, where four crewmembers would launch with the rescue orbiter, bringing home a total of 11 astronauts.

‘Were holding an option open on STS-126 to bring the full Soyuz crew back Station turned this off this week,’ added the Stand-up. ‘Team has been relieved from trying to protect this. Mr. Shannon fully concurred with this.’

The Russian investigation into the Soyuz TMA-11 ballistic re-entry is focusing on the failure of one of the pyrotechnic bolts that should have separated the spacecraft’s service module from its crew capsule prior to re-entry.

Expedition 17’s Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko recently carried out an EVA to retrieve a pyro bolt from the docked Soyuz TMA-12, for return to Earth for examination.

L2 members: All documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, updated live.

**BRAND NEW STS-124 MISSION OVERVIEW MUSIC VIDEO – AVAILABLE HERE** (Free Video Section – Only requires to be logged into the forum)

Click here for a range of superb STS mission specific music videos created by Max Q videos 

Related Articles