Atlantis arrives back at KSC ahead of STS-127 Agency FRR

by Chris Bergin

Atlantis is finally home after a cross-country trip on top of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) and will now be prepared for rollback to her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF). Meanwhile, Endeavour’s preparations for launch head into another milestone on Wednesday, when managers meet at the Agency level Flight Readiness Review (FRR), which will set the STS-127 launch date which is still tracking June 13.

Atlantis/STS-125 Latest:

Atlantis has enjoyed a mainland US sightseeing tour, taking in Biggs (Texas), Lackland AFB (San Antonio, TX), before heading to Columbus, MS. From there, the duo took the air for the final time, to head into the Florida evening and land at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

Engineers will begin work at the SLF’s Mate Demate Device (MDD) to remove Atlantis from the modified 747, prior to towing her back to the vacant OPF-1, as she prepares to heads into post flight processing.

However, some work has already taken place during her Californian vacation, notably on the Atlantis Aerosurface Servoamplifer (ASA) wiring and the Flow Control Valves (FCVs).

“Did a little preliminary trouble shooting out at Dryden. They looked down into the wires to see if the short was still there and did not see it. It is still possible there is a short in the wires,” noted the Orbiter Project on the latest Shuttle Standup/Integration report (L2).

“They did not look at the box for additional damage because they did not want to put any additional stress on the ASA. They have revised the ASA flight rationale, and added in more things about the effects of similar types of failures on other systems when the ground plane is affected.

“The team put together a good set of charts over the weekend to describe what we saw, what the implications are to the orbiter hardware, what we’ve done with wiring, and how we handle wiring on the orbiter.”

a22The hand delivery of the GH2 FCVs to their fabricator “Vacco” allowed for checks to be carried out in a timely fashion. Positive news that no cracks have been observed on the valves has already reported back to the Shuttle Program.

“Got news from Vacco on the FCVs that came out the vehicle. Upon inspection, there are no cracks. They are in the same condition they were before flight,” added the Orbiter Project. “They gave Vacco the go ahead to reassemble those parts. Those are the three FCVs planned for use on OV-103 (STS-128).”

Click here for articles on the FCV issue since STS-126.

The standup report also listed a couple of items that are of interest for the fleet as a whole, one relating to bent rods on the Manipulator Retention Latches (MRLs) that house the orbiter robotic arms and further interest into the puffs of smoke observed from Atlantis’ Main Landing Gear (MLG) during her touchdown at Edwards Air Force Base.

“Have been doing some trouble shooting on Manipulator Retention Latches (MRLs) since STS-114. During this trouble shooting they found some bent push rods (not the condition they were trouble shooting). Looking at other MRL assemblies, some have been found with slightly bent push rods and others without. Potentially might want to inspect OV-105 at the pad, but these latches are very difficult to get to.

“The story is still unfolding and Orbiter does not plan to talk it at all at the FRR on Wednesday. If needed it will be taken to the L-2 MMT,” added the Orbiter Project, before adding notes about the landing – both issues are not deemed to be constraints for STS-127.

“It does look like when they look at some of the data that some of the brake pulses do indeed line up with some of the puffs of smoke seen off on the right main gear. Appears the braking is very nominal.”

Endeavour/STS-127 Latest:

Despite being one day down on the flow towards launch, Endeavour continues to track a June 13 launch date, although this may still be refined by Wednesday’s Agency FRR.

“Vehicle processing continues to proceed well, although poor weather at KSC has made the schedule very tight,” noted MOD’s 8th Floor News (L2) on Tuesday. “We are still pressing toward a June 13th launch and per the normal process, the launch date will be formalized at the Agency FRR.”

Processing at Pad 39A has been working through the completion of S0009 Launch Pad Validation procedures, as STS-127 heads into the L-10 (day) point of the flow.

“Range Safety first motion checks are complete. SRB HPU (Solid Rocket Booster Hydraulic Power Unit) Bearing Soak is complete. SRB Aft Skirt purge activation and checkout is complete. LO2/LH2 and GO2/GH2 system checkouts are complete,” noted Tuesday processing information on L2.

“Vac Ion pump run is complete. OMBUU (Orbiter Mid Body Umbilical Unit) mate is scheduled to occur Thursday at around 1200L. S0600 payload installation into the orbiter was completed yesterday.”

However, a problem was noted with the 30 year old Fire Extinguisher system (FIXEX), which leaked contaminated water into the area of the shuttle. This is not expected to be a problem for the continued flow towards launch.

“Orbiter Spray and FIREX Check out complete. During FIREX validation the system burped leaking rusty water on the orbiter stinger,” added processing information. “OMS/RCS and TPS engineering inspected the area; engineering evaluation continues.

Other work taking place outside of the normal flow will also involve the replacement of the ET Umbilical Camera on Endeavour – following several fleet wide issues with the system, while preparations move into the Terminal Count Demonstration Test (TCDT), due to take place on Wednesday.

“S0017, Terminal Count Demonstration Test preps continue; the test is scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday. Crew escape poll transferred from Pad B to Pad A, and lifted to the 195′ level,” added processing information.

a3“On the digital umbilical camera for STS-127, did get a good check out of that camera last week. It is not installed yet. The team did send the camera down, mate that camera up to the umbilical flash, check it out, and the camera is functioning fine. The plan is to install it this week.

“We know that we have a good flash as well. We need to R&R the camera. We have a lot of confidence in the camera for STS-127. A chart will be added to the FRR charts for Wednesday.”

The achievement to even be in a position of launching another mission less than a month after the return of Atlantis from STS-125 should not be underestimated, with the teams earning special praise from Mission Management Team (MMT) co-chair Leroy Cain.

“Great work over the weekend. A lot of activity going on to get ready for STS-127, and also to get Atlantis back to the Cape. Know there were some technical issues, some hardware issues, and weather is always a challenge going across country,” Mr Cain said, addressing the workforce via the latest Standup report (L2).

“With Endeavour at Pad A, it sounds like we’re progressing well towards being able to go fly STS-127 whenever we decide we are ready to go to that; still targeting June 13. We’ll have our FRR on Wednesday. A lot of working going on over the weekend associated with some of the open work that we have, some of it open paper, some of it open work from a technical standpoint.

“Want to remind you and really urge you to please make sure that folks are getting a little down time. STS-127 is an extremely complex mission, and will require all of our focus. It will require as much or more due diligence that we’ve ever demonstrated.

“It is going to be a very exciting mission. It is going to be very challenging as well. Let’s make sure we get ourselves and our folks rested to the extent that we are able to. We’ve got a big week in front of us. Go get’em.”

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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