Atlantis sets her sights on Saturday return – Endeavour in STS-127 flow

by Chris Bergin

Following the early wave off of two landing opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Friday, Atlantis and her STS-125 switch their attentions to four opportunities on Saturday, which includes two options for landing at Edwards Air Force Base. Meanwhile, Endeavour is being prepared for her move to Pad 39A ahead of STS-127, pending repairs to the SRB flame deflector.

Atlantis Flight Day 12 EOM:

With STS-125 now in EOM (End Of Mission), two landing opportunities were set up for Atlantis’ return to KSC on Friday. However, the weather over Florida proved to be so poor that the entry procedure never passed the point of switching Atlantis’ radiators to the Flash Evaporator System (FES) – which is one step ahead of the closure of the Payload Bay Doors.

The Flight Day still proved to be slightly eventful, with the TDRS (Tracking Data Relay Satellite) 171 failing for a short time during the morning, threatening a loss of communications for over 30 minutes, before the satellite – ironically launched by Atlantis on STS-43 – kicked back into life.

Laughter was also heard around the Mission Control Center (Shuttle Flight Control Room), when a cabin O2 flow message was observed via the Waste Collection System (WCS).

Entry Flight Director Norm Knight asked commander Scott Altman to “cycle the control handle” – before “Scooter” responded, “I understand that’s the handle on the commode,” breaking down the request to the requirement to flush the onboard toilet. “What else could I call it,” Scooter responded as laughter was heard over the flight loop.

Another valve on Atlantis proved to be the only additional note on the Mission Evaluation Room (MER) report log since Flight Day 11, relating to the closeouts of the Airlock ahead of re-entry.

“Airlock Starboard Negative Pressure Relief Valve Locked On. The crew reported they were unable to remove cap per procedure,” noted MER, who have only worked around 18 minor issues throughout the mission. “No impact to flight/entry/landing.”

Saturday will see Edwards Air Force Base (Dryden Flight Research Facility) being called up for landing opportunities, although KSC will remain – as always – as the primary landing site. A landing in California adds around a week to her post launch flow, before being ferried back on top of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA).

White Sands will be added to the landing sites on Sunday.

More will follow – refer to live update pages linked above for up to the second live reports.

STS-127 Processing Latest:

Endeavour, officially stood down from her STS-400 LON (Launch On Need) requirement, is now in STS-127 flow operations. Endeavour will be moved off Pad 39B for a rollaround to the vacated 39A for her launch on June 12.

a222The date Endeavour will be transferred to Pad 39A remains undecided, with repair work continuing on the damaged SRB flame deflector – inflicted when Atlantis launched on STS-125 – which is still waiting on a new application of fondu fyre refractor concrete over the exposed area of the trench.

Currently, first motion of the STS-127 stack is scheduled for Friday 5/29 (2nd shift), with hard-down at Pad 39A on 5/30 (3rd shift). This schedule will be refined, based on the progress of the pad repairs.

“NDE of Pneumatic lines and associated repairs continue,” noted Friday processing information on L2. “Fondue Fyre application is scheduled to start next Tuesday.”

Endeavour is currently being secured from her launch countdown (STS-400) operations ahead of the pad switch, which will see her rolled back off Pad 39B, down the crawlerway to the fork between the two pads, before being moved forward on to Pad 39A.

“STS-400 Late LON S0007 Launch Countdown: The Program decided earlier today to release the STS-400 LON launch countdown support. The team is now in the process of securing from launch countdown. MPS (Main Propulsion System) and OMS COPV (Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessels) venting complete. OMBUU (Orbiter Mid Body Umbilical Unit) de-mate complete.

“Aft platform installations are in work, Aft gas samplers are safed and removal is in work. Pad ARCS rain cover removal and UTPA installation is on hold due to weather.”

a316The poor local weather also resulted in several days of lightning strikes being registered at Pad 39B, which also received the STS-127 payload on Friday morning. None of the lightning strikes affected Endeavour’s electrical systems.

“Two lightning strikes within 0.33 nautical miles of Pad B. The ERB (Engineering Review Board) recommendation that no additional retests were required since there were no indications of concern to the vehicle or ground systems. The data will be formally presented to the Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB).”

“Pad A: S0600 Payload Ops: STS-127 payload arrived to Pad at 02:00 EDT this morning,” added Friday processing information. “The payload canister is positioned under the PCR (Payload Changeout Room) and ready to lift as soon as there is a break in the weather (ETA 19:00 local).”

The STS-127 payload includes 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).

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).

L2 members: Documentation – from which most of 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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