STS-125 rollout delayed for repair – Endeavour’s ET-129 cleared

by Chris Bergin

The rollout of Atlantis/STS-125 has been delayed to NET (No Earlier Than) Tuesday (Sept. 2), as engineers begin to repair damage on the orbiter’s LH2 ET Umbilical plate.

Meanwhile, Endeavour’s External Tank (ET-129) has finally been cleared of any concerns relating to potential FOD (Foreign Object Debris) – and will now press ahead with mating operations on Thursday.

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Atlantis/STS-125 Latest:

The Engineering Review Board (ERB) is meeting today, following the successful removal of the guide pin which caused slight damage to umbilical connector on the orbiter side. They will review the repair plan and its requirements to allow for flight. 

The damage during mating operations resulted in some of the aluminum material liberating around the guide pin, adding difficulty to the efforts of removing the pin – before it was successfully removed last night.

The other effort related to gaining access to the hardware, by demating and jacking the umbilical to allow for mold impressions to be taken of the damage. Engineers managed to jack the orbiter two inches away from the connection, allowing for borescope inspections and for molds to be taken.

A total of six inches separation was requested to allow engineers to start the repair process, which involves blending down the protruding material on the umbilical connector. However, six inches may not be possible, making the repair a more difficult task to carry out.

‘The tapered guide pin was successfully removed last night. Borescope inspections show no indication of additional damage,’ noted Wednesday processing information. ‘The LH2 aft pyro can was also removed.

‘Some raised material was noted around the aft pyro can hole. Mold impressions have been taken and the raised material will be blended in. Additional mold impressions will then be taken.

‘After successful mitigation, the umbilical will be fully retracted. NDE (Non Destructive Evaluation) inspection for stress cracks of the ET Umbilical aluminum plate will follow. The forward plan will be reported and discussed at ERB today.’

A Dremel tool, with a fine grinding tool, may be used to grind away a minimal amount of the damaged aluminum to a smooth surface.

After the repair is completed, eddy current inspection data will be taken, to ensure the hardware is in an acceptable condition for flight. Should there be concerns about either the repair’s success, or the resulting inspections, Atlantis will have to be demated and returned to her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-1) for repair.

Such a worse case scenario remains unlikely, with only 24 hours lost in the flow via the evaluations – originally resulting in the delay to rollout by a day.

‘S0004 Orbiter/ET Mate: LO2 Orbiter/ET umbilical ordinance installation is complete; LH2 is on hold for Interim Problem Report (LH2 ET Umbilical),’ added processing information. ‘S0008 Shuttle Interface Test. Call-to-Stations is scheduled for 2300 EDT tomorrow.

‘The team is working toward rollout starting at 0001 EDT on Sunday.’

UPDATE: Rollout to 39A now delayed to NET Tuesday, September 2 – noted as time to allow for repairs to the LH2 ET Umbilical – though the latest from the VAB notes that engineers have started to repair the hardware and are ahead of the estimated timeline.

The repair may be finished by the evening, allowing for the engineering board to clear the hardware for flight by the end of the day – or by Thursday morning. The longer delay to rollout may also be based on poor weather that is expected in the area over the weekend.

Repair completed – see new article:

L2 Members: Refer to TAG keywords ‘STS-125’ for related L2 presentations, and live processing information, etc.

Endeavour/STS-400/126 Latest:

Following a lengthy evaluation process into a noise heard from within Endeavour’s ET-129 External Tank, engineers have finally cleared the tank.

The concern – raised shortly after the tank arrived inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – related to the potential of FOD being located inside the tank. However, a full series of X-ray and borescope inspections has found the tank to be clean.

Operations will now press ahead towards mating ET-127 with the twin Solid Rocket Boosters in High Bay 1.

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‘ET/SRB mate (S0003) remains scheduled for tomorrow. Belly bands have been pulled and aft restraints are installed. Preparations are complete for mate,’ added Wednesday processing information.

‘IPR (Interim Problem Report) X-rays are complete. No issues have been found.’

Closeouts are continuing on Endeavour, inside OPF-2, with less than three weeks to go before she is due to rollover to the VAB for mating operations.

The main area of interest in her flow remains with the engineering work on the installation of a jumper tube, which will bypass the faulty O2 System 2 Pressure Transducer valve.

‘Orbiter closeouts continue. Rudder speed brake tape repair, closeout inspection, and closure for flight are complete,’ added processing information.

‘Off Nominal O2 System 2 Pressure Transducer update: MO10W jumper tube operations are in work; X-rays and GSE panel setups were performed last night, x-ray evaluation, sampling of the panel, and bench work on the jumper is scheduled for today.

‘PLBD (Payload Bay Doors) strongback was removed last night in preparation for rollover. Wing Leading Edge (WLE) sensor system flight batteries installation continues today. Preps for Aft structural leak test/Orbiter compartment positive pressure test began last night. Call to Stations (CTS) is scheduled for tomorrow morning.’

L2 Members: Refer to TAG keywords ‘STS-400’ and ‘ET-129’ for related L2 presentations, and live processing information, etc.

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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