Atlantis tracking Tuesday rollover – Two more ETs due at KSC this year

by Chris Bergin

STS-129 is pressing ahead with the next processing milestone, with Atlantis preparing to roll over from her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-1) for the short journey to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the shipping dates have been set for the next two External Tanks (ETs) – both scheduled to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) by the end of the year.

STS-129 Latest:

Atlantis is enjoying the weekend off, as she sits on the Orbiter Transporter System (OTS) in preparation for the roll to the VAB next week, ahead of her November launch date for STS-129. Only one item of interest is being evaluated by engineers, relating to the changeout of the onboard Waste Collection System (WCS).

“OV-104 (STS-129): Preparations for rollover are underway. The flight tires were pressurized. Weight/CG (Center Of Gravity) ops complete. The vehicle is placed on the transporter. The rollover to the VAB will be Tuesday, October 6. Options (vertical and horizontal) for the WCS are in work,” noted Ground Operations on the latest Shuttle Standup/Integration report (L2).

“Shuttle Processing (NASA/KSC): The ERB (Engineering Review Board) will discuss the WCS and determine what is feasible in terms of R&R’ing or working on the unit in the vertical mode. Engineering is engaged in assisting with the fracture analysis issue for the WCS.”

The current plan is to swap the damaged WCS with the unit on the recently returned Discovery, allowing for Atlantis’ WCS to be repaired and subsequently replaced on Discovery ahead of her next flight (STS-131 next year).

Otherwise all preparations are proceeding to plan, with External Tank (ET-133) and the twin boosters “SRB/RSRM BI-140/RSRM 108” undergoing joint closeouts in the VAB, on a timeline that allows for Orbiter mate next Tuesday evening.

Last week also saw the crew undergo emergency training at Pad 39A, known as S1025 operations on the integrated milestone chart.

“S1025 Flight and Ground Crew Emergency Egress training finished up with the completion of a successful integrated simulation run including Firing Room, Pad, and emergency support personnel.”

STS-130 Latest:

A4Endeavour is also enjoying a smooth flow inside OPF-2, as processing for her February 4, 2010 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – delivering Node 3 and Cupola – remains on track.

“OV-105 (STS-130): Lockbolt and SSPTS (Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System) testing are complete. The GN2 tank was removed from mid-body Bay 4,” added the Standup report. “The black boxes are being reinstalled. Convoluted tubing in the elevons is being worked. Continuing with configuration in midbody. Systems testing continues.”

Weekend work involves RSB (Rudder Speed Brake) closeouts, TPS (Thermal Protection System) ops and Fuel Cell 3 sensor R&R, mostly related to post flight processing following her return from STS-127.

The buildup of STS-130’s Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) are also picking up, with the right aft booster transfer to pallet complete, ready to move to Surge. The left-hand forward assembly for STS-130/20A is also being transferred to the VAB.

STS-130’s External Tank (ET-134) is in the final stages of processing, with checkouts nearly complete – ahead of its October 17 shipping from the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans to KSC.

“ET-134: The tank is in Building 420, with aft dome closeout work proceeding nominally,” added MAF’s Lockheed Martin contractor on the Standup report. “The All Systems Testing (has) begun. The intertank door and nosecone have been installed. Shakedown work is about 70 percent complete. The ship date on this tank remains October 17.”

A2Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne are continuing their investigation into several hundred pinhole leaks that were found on one of the nozzles on Endeavour’s SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) number 1 (SSME 2045/Nozzle 2031). The damaged nozzle has been sent back to the contractor for repair.

“Nozzle unit 2031, which was in Position 1 on STS-127/2JA and was found to have 340 leaks, is being delivered to the Canoga Park laboratory,” noted P&WR on the standup report. “(Managers) asked when the laboratory would have data available from S/N 2031. The response was that the majority of the data that can be gleaned from this equipment is already available (samples, lab analysis, etc.).

“The unit is being shipped to Canoga Park so that if additional samples are requested, that work can be done. No further material work is expected. At this point, repair work can begin.”

The replacement of the SSME’s nozzle has seen a mini-shuffle to the flight manifest of the engines, as Endeavour awaits installation of her three engines on October 19. Originally, Endeavour was set to receive engines 2057, 2059, and 2061. However, Engine 2054 appears to have replaced one of the engines for STS-130.

“New flight nozzle 5013 will be mated to Flight Engine 2054. Nozzle 5014 will be mated to Flight Engine 2061. All nozzle TPS has been installed,” added the report. “These engines are manifested for STS-130/20A, with an installation date of October 19, 2009.”

STS-131 Latest:

Complicating matters slightly has been a report of another set of leaks – albeit far less than those observed on STS-127’s SSME 1 – on Discovery’s Engine 3 nozzle, found during STS-128 post flight inspections.

“SSME (Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne/KSC) Engine removal preparations have begun. Removal of the first engine is expected on first shift on Monday,” noted the Standup report.

A5“On OV-103 (Discovery) from STS-128/17A, on Engine 3, there were at least 200 leaks reported after the vehicle landed at EDW (Edwards Air Force Base). The engines come off of OV-103 on Monday-Tuesday of next week and then the leak checks of the nozzles will begin. The goal is to map the leaks and see if they match those seen on Endeavour’s SSME.”

As previously reported by this site, engineers have found the application of an adhesive tape – used to seal the throat plugs on the SSMEs since the 1990s – was the initial root cause of 340 leaks on Endeavour’s number one engine.

Sulfur in the tape has been found to interact with the nozzle’s nickel finish under the extreme temperatures endured during their ascent role, causing embrittlement and then tiny cracks and corrosion of the A286 iron which the SSME nozzle tubes are made from.

Processing on Discovery inside OPF-3 – for STS-131’s March 18 logistics mission to the ISS – is proceeding to plan, as post flight work continues on the veteran orbiter.

“OV-103 (STS-131): The ferry-plug removal was completed. Window inspections continue, with Windows 1 and 6 to be R&R’d,” added the Standup. “WLE (Wing Leading Edge) thermography is in work. The nose cap inspection is complete.”

“Post roll-in inspections continue: Primary and vernier thruster inspections were completed. ODS (Orbiter Docking System) power open circuit variation was successfully completed. WMS (Waste Management System) post flight servicing continues. Orbiter wing and nosecap RCC thermography is in work and will continue,” added specific processing information on L2.

Weekend work includes SSME dome/mounted heatshield removals, and TPS waterproofing, while the buildup of Discovery’s SRBs – Booster Integration (BI) 142 – is continuing.

Those boosters will be joined by STS-131’s External Tank (ET-135), which is expected to arrive at KSC at the end of the year.

“ET-135: The tank is in Final Assembly and proceeding nominally. The pressure line Barry mount closeouts are in work. The harness bonding is about 50 percent complete,” noted MAF processing on the standup report.

“Two upper LH2 IFRs (Ice Frost Ramp) remain to be poured. The cable trays are in work and feedlines are being placed. Longeron closeouts are in work. The ship date on this tank is December 23.”

The mission continues to be refined via the all-powerful Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB), with the latest update referencing a recommendation to add another Tridar DTO (Detailed Test Objective) to STS-131/19A, which will fly in the same configuration as the previous OV-103 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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