Endeavour rollover to VAB for STS-127/400 completed

by Chris Bergin

As part of the dual flow for STS-125, Endeavour has rolled over from her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-2) to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where she will be mated with External Tank ET-131 over the Easter weekend. Endeavour is tasked with supporting Atlantis as the LON (Launch On Need) shuttle, ahead of her primary STS-127 mission.

Endeavour Processing Latest:

The latter stages of Endeavour’s flow have been uneventful – as preferred – with only a small area of tile damage requiring the attention of engineers ahead of Friday’s rollover.

“Orbiter jack-down and weight/CG (Center of Gravity) was completed Wednesday. While moving an access ladder during the operation, a tile was damaged on the RH ET (Right Hand External Tank) door. The tile has been repaired,” noted L2 processing information on Thursday.

Endeavour was then be loaded onto the Orbiter Transporter System (OTS) for the short journey to the VAB, ahead of S0004 Orbiter/ET mating operations.

“Call to Stations for S0004 Orbiter/ET mate occurred at 06:00 (local),” added Friday processing information. “First motion for rollover to the VAB is expected at 07:00 (confirmed as almost exactly on schedule). Weekend work: S0004 Orbiter/ET mate and preps for S0008, Shuttle interface test.”

Following a week of mating and interface operations in the VAB, Endeavour will be rolled out to Pad 39B, with the ability to launch within seven days – should Atlantis’ crew require rescue during STS-125.


The unique nature of Endeavour’s rescue roll, known as STS-400 LON, is due to the lack of “safe haven” that is provided by the International Space Station (ISS) on all other shuttle missions.

a39Managers had considered a single pad option, which would have involved utilizing Pad 39A for both STS-125’s launch, and – if required – an accelerated pad flow for STS-400.

However, due to the on-going schedule/funding problems with the Constellation Program (CxP), Ares I-X’s subsequent delays to its test launch allowed the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) to continue to utilize Pad 39B for STS-400, while a level of Ares modifications – including construction of the three 600 foot Lightning Towers (over 500mb of hi res images from blueprints to completion on L2) – were completed.

Endeavour will be protected by two of the new lightning towers during her stay at Pad 39B, following the removal of the mast that was previously located at the top of the Fixed Service Structure (FSS), ahead of Ares I-X’s eventual test launch.


Once stood down from STS-400 requirements, Endeavour will be rolled off Pad 39B, transported down the crawlerway to the fork that splits off to Pad 39A, before being rolled up on to the vacated pad. This was previously seen ahead of STS-126, following Atlantis’ roll back to the VAB due to a mission delay caused by an on orbit issue with the Hubble Space Telescope.

5417Endeavour will then be processed for her primary mission, STS-127, which includes the delivery of the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) and the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module – Exposed Section (ELM-ES) as well as the Integrated Cargo Carrier – Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD).

Attached to the ICC-VLD will be six P6 truss batteries (which will be part of the P6 battery R&R activities during one of the mission’s EVAs), a Linear Drive Unit, Pump Module #2, and a Space to Ground Antennae – all of which will be transferred to ESP-3 (External Stowage Platform-3) during an EVA.

In addition to these primary payloads, Endeavour will fly with DRAGONSAT (Dual RF Autonomous GPS On-Orbit Navigator Satellite), the MAUI (Maui Analysis of Upper-Atmospheric Injections), ANDE-2 (Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment-2), SEITE (Shuttle Engine Ion Turbulence Experiment), and SIMPLEX (Shuttle Ionospheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust).

The mission – working to a NET (No Earlier Than) June 13 launch date – is currently under a recommendation of being increased to 16 days (16+0+0) in duration, due to Shuttle Crew Scheduling Constraints (SCSC) rules relating to off duty time during flight.

L2 members: 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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