STS-130: Endeavour set for Christmas stay in VAB for Feb 6 mission

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle managers have decided to delay rollout of Endeavour to Pad 39A until January 6 for her STS-130 mission. With rollover of the orbiter remaining on target for December 12, Endeavour will spend three weeks – and the Christmas holidays – in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The launch date has also slipped two days to February 6, due to a constraint on the Eastern Range.

STS-130 Flow Latest:

Endeavour is looking to beat older sister Atlantis’ record low of Interim Problem Reports (IPRs) – gained during the STS-129 flow – with only 26 issues noted so far during Endeavour’s flow since returning from STS-127.

As Endeavour heads into a new week of processing, no issues are being worked by engineers – as they conduct leak checks, closeouts and landing gear checkouts inside her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-2).

“ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) GN2 service top off and sample Monday; three day decay leak check starts tomorrow (Tuesday). Orbiter close outs for roll to VAB continue,” noted the NASA Test Director (NTD) report for Monday processing (L2).

“DPS (Data Processing System) MED (Multifunction Electronic Display) MDU (Multifunction Display Units) redline/greenline display verification scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday). Brake/Anti-Skid/Nose Wheel Steering Checkout (in work).”

A clearance issue between Endeavour’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) and a connector in the payload bay is being evaluated, but is not expected to be an issue for the upcoming Flight Readiness Review (FRR) season.

Inside the VAB’s High Bay 1, mating of External Tank (ET-134) and the twin Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) is proceeding to plan, as closeout work remains on schedule to accept Endeavour for mating with the stack in less than two week’s time.

STS-130 Specific Articles:

“ET-134 / SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (VAB HB-1): Left and Right Hand EDAS (Enhanced Data Acquisition System) Installation; SRB Element is working installation. Left and Right Heater Cable Closeouts; Heater cables glued in place. Ready for RT-455 (insulation) application,” added the NTD report.

“Left and Right Lower Strut Closeout; L/R Lower Strut Cover installation complete. RT-455 next. Left and Right O.I. Cable Connects & Camera Installation; Camera PR-1422 is in cure. Left and Right Forward Crossover Installation. L/R RT-455 is in cure. Left and Right Upper Strut Electrical Connections; Connector mates complete. Safety wire complete. Photos & Ring Segments next.”

A64Managers are also waiting on the results from an investigation into another series of foam losses from the intertank, this time suffered on STS-129’s ET-133. The foam losses were far less than those seen with ET-131’s events during STS-127’s ascent.

Also, all the loses originated on the backside (Minus D side) of the tank, which resulted in no foam impact threats to Atlantis. Regardless, an investigation is ongoing to understand why the foam liberated – especially after confidence was gained via pull tests on all recent tanks after the ET-131 incident.

“Lockheed-Martin has reassembled the Fishbone Team that investigated the previous intertank loss to look at the failures seen on the Minus D side on this (STS-129) mission and to look for any similarities/differences to what they already know,” noted the Shuttle Standup/Integration Report (L2).

The ET-131 losses were believed to be caused by dust contamination finding its way on to the shell of ET-131’s intertank during its fabrication at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. No intertank foam losses were observed on STS-128’s ET-132 tank.

Launch Date:

STS-130 will be the 24th flight of Endeavour and the 130th overall flight of the Space Shuttle Program, carrying Node-3 and Cupola as the primary payload, with various other 20A specific middeck payloads – as well as SIMPLEX, MAUI, and SEITE – rounding out the mission’s payload.

a410Due to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) mission to launch NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) via an Atlas V on February 3 from Cape Canaveral, Shuttle managers have agreed to slip Endeavour’s launch by two days to February 6.

With the rollover from OPF-2 remaining on schedule for December 12, Endeavour will spend three weeks in the VAB – now agreed, following evaluations over the past week. A small engineering team will care for Endeavour during the holidays.

It is possible – though not mentioned – that the slip also accommodates the docking of a Russian Progress resupply ship at the International Space Station (ISS) on February 5. The increasing rate of launches to the ISS was recently cited by Mission Management Team (MMT) chair Mike Moses as the biggest concern for schedule impacts to the five flight 2010 shuttle manifest.

Early on Tuesday, one of those vehicles returned three crewmembers from the ISS to the Earth – when the Russian Soyuz TMA-15 landed north of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan at around 7:15am UTC.

The return of Commander Roman Romanenko, Flight Engineer’s Frank De Winne and Robert Thirsk, leaves the ISS with just two crewmembers – Expedition 22 commander Jeff Williams of NASA and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev – onboard.

However, they will only have to wait three weeks for new crewmembers, when Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA’s T.J. Creamer, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, launch to the station December 20 on the Soyuz TMA-17 craft – which will arrive three days later.

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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