STS-129 concludes final EVA – STS-130 ET/SRB mate on Monday

by Chris Bergin

Randy Bresnik and Robert Satcher have compelted the third and final EVA of STS-129’s mission, as work is already ramping up on the next mission to launch out of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) – as STS-130 hits the milestone of mating the External Tank (ET-134) and Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). Endeavour is set to join them next month, pending a rollover review.

STS-129 EVA-3:

As of early on Monday morning, managers were still discussing the plan for EVA-3 – mainly due to the amazing work conducted on the opening two spacewalks of the mission. Both EVAs managed to complete numerous get-ahead tasks, leading to at least one notable deletion from the EVA-3 timeline.

All three Payload Attach Systems (PAS) have been successfully deployed already, leaving at least one hole to be filled in the EVA-3 timeline.

Primary tasks that were pre-scheduled for EVA-3 included the transferring of HPGT (High Pressure Gas Tank) from ELC-2 to the ISS Airlock with assistance from SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) arm, along with the installation of the MISSE 7 experiment on ELC-2.

Several get-aheads were easily added to the spacewalk, though which tasks depended on the progress of EVA-3. The plan was to have the EVA completed in just under five hours, although work on the P1/p3 and S1/S3 jumper cables – a final getahead task – has resulted in the EVA being extended past that timeline.

“Flight Day 8 (today) planned: EVA-3 by Satcher and Bresnik (Transfer High Pressure Oxygen Gas Tank and MISSE-7 (Materials International Space Station Experiment) to Quest and jettison MMOD shields),” listed the latest plan via the NASA Test Director on Monday.

With Atlantis performing well on orbit, along with the superb docked phase of the mission proceeding to plan, LeRoy Cain – co chair of the MMT (Mission Management Team) – spoke of his pleasure with STS-129’s status.

STS-129 Specific Articles:

“The mission is going really well. A Focused Inspection is not required, which is an excellent indicator of how clean and ready to go the vehicle truly is,” Mr Cain noted on the latest Shuttle Standup/Integration report (L2).

“(Mr Cain) expressed appreciation for how much work the MOD Team is performing and complemented everyone on how well the various teams are working together. We are taking the time needed to be sure we understand what we are seeing and following our processes.”

STS-130 Latest:

Over in High Bays 1 and 2 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), ET-134 being mated with the twin SRBs, as the STS-130 stack builds up ahead of the arrival of Endeavour – currently scheduled for mid December. Endeavour has been tasked with the mission to carry Node 3 and Cupola to the ISS.

“SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (VAB HB-1): OI Cable Routing installation on both sides are complete. Optics for ET/SRB mate complete. S0003 ET/SRB Mate preps; Hardware preps complete,” noted KSC Ground Ops. “ET-134 (VAB HB-2E) Platform preps are in work. ET Mate taking place Monday.”

A2Endeavour herself is undergoing closeouts, alongside work to install instrumentation for the Main Engine Ignition (MEI) acoustic over pressurization data gathering effort, instrumentation which debuted on Atlantis at the request of shuttle managers – who are looking at additional instrumentation in the aft and on the stinger to develop a list of priorities to examine.

“STS-130/OV-105: MEI instrumentation work continues. RH (Right Hand) stinger door carrier panel installation was completed. The base heat shield tile was received, and the first pre-fit is complete. The tile was bonded this weekend, maintaining the planned schedule for rollover. Base Heat Shield installation is proceeding well. OMS pod instrumentation activity has begun,” added Ground Ops and NTD status.

“Payload Bay Doors were closed in support of roll over. Drag Chute Door retorque was completed. Closeouts in the forward and aft continue. The vehicle is on track for rollout on December 10.

“The STS-130/20A walkdown has been completed. A dynamic clearance issue (0.1”) is being tracked between a connector and the RMS (Remote Manipulator System),” added Flight Operations and Integration. “This will be tracked through the VLA cycle, but is not expected to present a flight constraint.”

Endeavour has also received a clean bill of health for her Reaction Control System (RCS) jets, following the failure of her F2F thruster on STS-127.

“A total of four thrusters on the last few flights have failed. One of these was F2F on STS-127/2JA; it failed off during an RCS hotfire,” added the Standup report. “In this particular incident, a piece of RTV was found in the PC tube. This thruster will be thoroughly cleaned before being returned to spares.”

While December 10 is the current target on processing milestones, this may slip by a couple of days. Managers are also discussing whether to keep the STS-130 stack inside the VAB over the Christmas holidays – with a decision expected in the next few days.

“Work on the rollout date for STS-130 continues. The internal target is December 10, with the vehicle ready to roll by December 12-14,” added the Standup report. “The question as to whether the vehicle will stay at the pad or in the VAB during the Christmas Holiday is under consideration. This information will be provided to the Board over this week.”

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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