With Discovery safely back from STS-119, Atlantis undergoing pad processing for STS-125, and Endeavour ready to roll to the VAB on Friday ahead of STS-400/127, NASA is hard at work preparing for a busy summer launch schedule while planning continues for future flights. Of these future flights, the Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) has officially baselined the STS-132/ULF-4 flight – a mission that will see the Russian Mini Research Module-1 (MRM-1) added to the International Space Station.
STS-132 will mark the 32nd and final “scheduled” flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis since her inaugural flight in October 1985. Targeting launch No Earlier Than (NET) May 13, 2010, STS-132 has been baselined as an 11+1+2 day mission, with three scheduled EVAs (spacewalks) and the option to add an extra EVA should the need arise.
For launch, Atlantis will use External Tank ET-136, Solid Rocket Booster set BI-143, and Reusable Solid Rocket Motor set 111. Atlantis will also fly with the OI-34 operating software.
To accomplish all of the mission’s objectives, Atlantis will carry the MRM-1, the Integrated Cargo Carrier – Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD) with several assorted payloads, along with a sidewall SPA Beam payload.
Packed onto the MRM-1 will be several module-specific items as well as spare parts and a portable work platform, as outlined in the PRCB baseline presentation – available to download on L2.
Among the various items attached to the outside of the MRM-1 will be several pieces of outfitting hardware for the MRM-1’s Multi-purpose Laboratory Module (MLM). These items include the MLM payload airlock, the MLM radiator, a spare elbow assembly for the European Robotic Arm (ERA), and the Portable Work Platform for the ERA.
In addition to its externally mounted payloads, the MRM-1 will carry approximately 1,400 kilograms of internal U.S. supplies to the ISS. After MRM-1 is installed, the total usable stowage volume available to Expedition crewmembers will be 6.0 m3.
The second major payload of the mission is the ICC-VLD, a cargo carrier that will be packed with eight payload elements.
These elements include six P6 Channel 4B batteries, a Space to Ground Antenna (SGANT), a SGANT boom, the Enhanced Orbital Replacement Unit Temporary Platform (EOTP), two Power Video Grapple Fixtures (PVGFs), a Power Distribution Unit, several EVA Aids (including worksite interface fixtures and handrails), and a Fuse Box.
Furthermore, the final cargo element is the sidewall SPA Beam plus Passive FRAM. This payload will be contained within a standard Sidewall Mounted Carrier and will be delivered to the ISS during the mission.
A “to be determined” ISS ORU (Orbital Replacement Unit) payload will return to Earth with Atlantis in the Sidewall Mounted Carrier.
To support the diverse nature of the STS-132 payload, several Payload Bay (PLB) support elements will be flown – such as the Remote Operated Electrical Umbilical, which will provide power and data to the MRM-1 while it is berthed in Atlantis’ PLB.
Furthermore, an EVA Cable Stowage Hardware will be installed in PLB port bay 6. This element will support LTA cable stowage for the ICC-VLD. Additionally, several Payload Power Switching Units will be used in PLB starboard bay 5 to route power to the ICC-VLD.
Finally, a Station Power Distribution Unit will provide power to the OBSS LCS sensor during docked operations.
As always, Atlantis will fly several middeck payloads during STS-132.
During ascent, Atlantis will carry three passive lockers which will include one ambient GLACIER and one late load/time critical payload investigation, a National Lab Pathfinder (a Commercial Generic Bio-processing Apparatus), one GLACIER unit, and one International Partner allocation payload.
At the end of the mission, Atlantis will return with two powered lockers including two GLACIER units and one International Partner conditioned Unit.
As has been seen with previous flights, Atlantis will conduct several payloads of opportunity if time permits. These payloads of opportunity include MAUI, SEITE, RAMBO-2, and SIMPLEX.
As with every flight, mission managers have identified, and categorized, the primary mission objectives for STS-132.
In order of criticality, the objectives are: activation and checkout of the MRM-1, installation of MRM-1 to the FGB Nadir port, transfer of water and critical ISS middeck cargo elements, deployment of the ICC-VLD and subsequent installation to the MT POA (followed later in the mission by the return of the ICC-VLD to Atlantis’ payload bay), removal and replacement of six P6 Channel 4B batteries, installation of SGANT to the Z1 truss, removal of the OTP and installation of the EOTP on the SPDM, and completion of middeck cargo transfers to and from ISS.
Most of these mission objectives will be accomplished during the mission’s three EVAs.
SGANT and boom installation to Z1 will occur during EVA-1 on Flight Day 4 (FD-4) with ICC-VLD installation on POA following shortly after the completion of the EVA.
For EVA-2 on FD-6, four P6 batteries will be Removed and Replaced and the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) will remove the ICC-VLD from the POA.
During EVA-3, the final two P6 batteries will be R&Red, the ICC-VLD will be reinstalled on POA, and the OTP will be removed and the EOTP installed to the SPDM.
Unberthing of MRM-1 from Atlantis and installation on FGB Nadir will occur on FD-5 (though ingress to MRM-1 is not currently planned under the initial mission timeline) and reberthing of the ICC-VLD into Atlantis’ payload bay will occur on FD-9.
Under the preliminary mission timeline, Atlantis will undock for the final time from the ISS on FD-10 for a landing on FD-12.
However, despite initial planning efforts, early indications are that the EVA content of the mission will not fit within the allotted three EVA structure. Robotic choreography and “EOTP removal from ICC and R&R with the OTP doesn’t fit in preliminary timeline,” notes the baseline document.
In addition to these timeline issues, flight planners are also evaluating the positioning of the PVGF on the ICC-VLD, conducting robotics analyses of the cargo element transfer operations from the ICC-VLD using the SSRMS, and examining EVA crew access, clearance, and task time assessments for the SGANT and SGANT Boom transfer operations.
Further assessments for the mission include information on the projected launch weights for MRM-1 and ICC-VLD and the vehicle’s overall Ascent Performance Margin. For STS-132, the projected APM is 1,576lbs with the projected weight of MRM-1 coming in at 17,417lbs and the weight of ICC-VLD coming in at 7,790lbs.
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.