STS-126 TCDT and Agency FRR conclude without issue

by Chris Bergin

The STS-126 Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) – a dress rehearsal for the November launch – has concluded, as has the Agency Flight Readiness Review (FRR).

No major issues have been reported with the countdown test, which results in an abort being called at T-5 seconds, and includes the emergency egress procedure in the event the crew would need to evacuate the pad.

“S0017 Terminal Count Demonstration Test: Call to stations occurred at 07:30 yesterday. Navaids and COMM activation were completed yesterday afternoon, and the ascent switchlist was completed last night,” noted Wednesday processing information.

“Flight crew emergency egress training was successfully completed yesterday. Slidewire basket number 4 was successfully released and had a nominal travel to the termination zone.”

The basket – as per usual – did not contain an astronaut. Instead it is loaded with weights to mimic a crewmember riding down the slidewire. The same process was recently carried out on Pad 39B, for its STS-400 (now STS-401) role in support of STS-125.

The only issue reported was a missing lens cap, which slipped behind a stowage box. A cold plate – which protects electronics – will have to be removed to recover the cap.

“Issue was picked up during flight deck crew set up, for the Lens Cap of the crew HDV camcorder was dropped behind a stowage box in Av-Bay 3B. The stowage box, which is mounted to a cold plate, will have to be removed to recover the lens cap.”

Tonight (Wednesday) processing will continue to push forward with S0009 (Launch Pad Validation) operations, in tandem with preparations for the closing of Endeavour’s Payload Bay Doors for flight.

“Engine ball seal leak checks are scheduled for 2nd shift today. OMBUU (Orbiter Mid Body Umbilical Unit) mate and mid-body O2 and H2 leak checks are scheduled for this afternoon,” added processing information. “The +Y/-Y Orbiter Weather Protection was extended yesterday after crew egress training was completed.

“Payload Testing: Electrical mates for OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) sensors, OBSS IVT, and elbow, B, and C camera installations and checkouts were completed yesterday.

“LMC (Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier) IVT is planned for this afternoon; evaluation of the failed bond check continues. Payload closeouts pick up tonight; door closure is planned for tomorrow afternoon.”

This week also marked the final Flight Readiness Review (FRR) – known as the Agency FRR – which technically approves the launch date. This time, however, a manifest meeting on November 5 will finalize what will be November 14 for STS-126 – pending any issues that may arise over the coming days.

This FRR also finalized a few issues that were noted at the SSP (Space Shuttle Program) FRR last week – notably a plasma concern, which was deemed as an EVA concern about positive charge plasma with potential as a “catastrophic shock hazard” to spacewalkers, on the ISS presentation to the SSP FRR.

“The Space Shuttle Program Flight Readiness Review concluded on 10/22/08. One informal action was issued to FO and I (Flight Operations and Integration), which will be worked by MOD,” noted a FRR review memo.

“The informal action was to review the Shuttle Crew Scheduling Constraints to determine if the EVA duration constraint should be updated to take more factors into consideration and allow a longer duration when it makes sense without an exception.

“The late breaking ISS plasma EVA issue was mentioned but not discussed since it will be a topic for discussion at the SORR (Stage Operations Readiness Review). The Orbiter Project will verify there are no adverse effects from the Orbiter perspective. The Agency FRR is scheduled for 10/30 and 10/31.”

This issue is still being evaluated, but is currently not expected to be a cause for a launch delay for Endeavour. A process of mitigation, and possibly a waiver, will be put into action.

“Positive Charge Plasma concern during EVA. Newly recognized concern with catastrophic shock hazard to EVA crew – issue still under review,” noted the ISS STS-126 SSP FRR presentation (30 STS-126 FRR Presentations are available on L2).

L2 members: All documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, now over 4000 gbs in size.

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