Endeavour Arrives at Pad 39A; STS-129 IFA Review Promotes STS-130 FRRs

by Chris Gebhardt

Endeavour has completed her 3.5-mile journey to Launch Pad 39A from the VAB ahead of her targeted February 7 launch date on the STS-130 mission. Meanwhile, managers and engineers around NASA are preparing for the multi-stage Flight Readiness Review (FRR) process for STS-130 – aided in large part by the low number of In-Flight Anomalies (IFAs) from Atlantis and STS-129 in November 2009.

Endeavour’s Status:

Endeavour enjoyed an issue-free rollout to 39A, following first motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at 4:13am local time on Wednesday morning – just a quarter of an hour behind schedule. Pad Validation work is set to take place later this morning.

“Orbiter: OV-105 / ET-134 / SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (VAB HB-1) – The team is working towards a February 7th launch date. S0044, launch countdown simulation was completed Tuesday,” noted Wednesday morning processing information on L2.

“SSV Rollout call to stations was completed at 1700 yesterday and first motion occurred at 0413 EST this morning. S0009 Launch Pad Validation call to stations is targeted for approximately 1030hrs.”

Over the next month, engineers will make final preparations for Endeavour’s 25th voyage to space, including installation of the mission’s payload into Endeavour’s Payload Bay – a task which will take place shortly after the payload is delivered to Pad-A in mid-January.

In all, NASA managers and engineers will spend the next four weeks making final preparations and clearances for Endeavour’s flight via the series of FRRs, the first of which occurs tomorrow: the Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) FRR at JSC.

Following the MOD FRR, the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) will conduct its standard two-day FRR on January 19 and 20.

Finally, one week later, the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) will hold their FRR at the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, January 27, during which an official launch date for STS-130 will be selected/approved.

STS-130 Specific Articles: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/sts-130/

Aiding the FRR process for STS-130 is the extremely clean nature of orbiter Atlantis’ STS-129 flight to the International Space Station in November 2009 in terms of the relatively low number of total IFAs reported by the various departments.

Flight Operations & Integration Review of STS-129:

In all, the Fight Operations & Integration (FO&I) office reported no IFAs for the STS-129 mission.

“SSP Flight Operations & Integration recommends that none of the STS-129 in-flight issues/problems be tracked as new STS-129/ULF3 FO&I IFAs,” notes the FO&I IFA presentation – available for download on L2.

STS-129 Specific Articles: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/sts-129/

FO&I is tracking two issues that were observed in-flight. These issues are classed as items of interests and – while not being constraints to STS-130 next month – are, nonetheless, issues which FO&I would like to resolve/understand.

“FO&I will track two in-flight issues as items of interest: ULF3 Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) Distillation Assembly (DA) Containment for Return and ISS Emergency (Fire) Event Not Annunciated by Shuttle Onboard Fault Summary.”

A2In terms of the UPA DA, “Work performed real-time to secure the DA and protect its tubing and tin sides from damage during entry,” notes the presentation.

The presentation mentions that the safety community performed “real-time” assessments of safety issues for the unscheduled return of the UPA DA on Atlantis. The UPA DA return will be reviewed for “lessons learned” to ensure that, should another ISS component require an unscheduled return on a future Space Shuttle mission, all SSP incorporation tasks are properly outlined.

The second item of interest from FO&I was a failure of the Shuttle Onboard Fault Summary (OFS) to annunciate an ISS Emergency Event (fire).

“ISS Emergency (Fire) Event Not Annunciated by Shuttle Onboard Fault Summary (OFS),” notes the presentation. “The reason for the alarms not heard was investigated by INCO (Instrumentation and Communication Officer) and ODIN (Onboard, Data, Interfaces, and Networks).”

An explanation for the anomaly was explained by INCO and ODIN. FO&I is currently tracking this issue as an item of interest.


In all, 24 items reported post-launch of STS-129 met the NASA Space Transportation System (NSTS) definition of a KSC IFA. Twenty-one of these items were classified as General Pad Debris items and three were classified as System Specific Debris.

All System Specific Debris items have been reviewed and closed, with none of these items being incorporated into the Integrated IFA summary.

Conversely, the 21 General Pad Debris items were – at the time of the IFA review in early December – still “open,” with a final closure date of December 14.

In all, STS-129’s 21 General Pad Debris items is the third highest number since STS-117. The launch’s three System Specific Debris items ties with STS-128 for the lowest number, while the launch’s zero System Specific GSE (Ground Support Equipment) debris items ties for the lowest number with STS-128, STS-125, and STS-119.

Orbiter and Government Flown Equipment IFAs:

In all, the Orbiter Project Office (OPO) and the Government Flown Equipment (GFE) division each reported two IFAs in the wake of STS-129.

For the OPO, the failure of the mid-Starboard Payload Bay Floodlight and the premature stop of a waste dump were the only two items to gain IFA status.

For the mid-Starboard Payload Bay Floodlight #4 failure, “During payload bay floodlight power-up on FD8 (Flight Day 8), the current signature on Main Bus C MPC3 was less than expected for an illuminated floodlight, and the Aft-Port or Mid-Starboard Floodlight was considered suspect,” notes the OPO/GFE IFA presentation – available for download on L2.

During the flight, the crew was asked to troubleshoot the floodlight by moving the power switch to “off” – leading to the mid-Starboard Floodlight #4 being declared failed.

The failure of the floodlight held no impact to the mission or to crew safety. However, the presentation notes that the loss of multiple Payload Bay floodlights could require a Shuttle crew to use hand-held spot lights to “verify latches during Payload Bay Door closure operations.”

This issue is not a constraint to STS-130 (Endeavour), STS-131 (Discovery), or STS-132 (Atlantis).

The second OPO IFA, however, is classified as a constraint to Atlantis’ next mission: STS-132 in May 2010. Nonetheless, it is not a constraint to either STS-130 or STS-131.

A3This IFA relates to the premature stop of a waste water dump.

“The waste water dump initiated post-undock exhibited a nominal waste dump rate (~2.0 percent/min) until the waste dump rate degraded to ~ 0.3 percent/min,” notes the OPO/GFE presentation. “The dump was terminated by closing the dump valve and nozzle was reheated to ~258 deg F.”

A second dump was also terminated due to an off-nominal dump rate.

Inspections of the waste dump nozzle revealed no ice buildup and a FD-11 Condensate Contingency Water Container dump was successfully performed through the suspect nozzle – which cleared the water dump nozzle as the cause of the waste water dump flow degradation.

“A subsequent waste water tank dump through the High Capacity Filter using the conventional dump configuration was unsuccessful. The waste dump isolation valve was closed for 60 sec and another attempt to dump was unsuccessful.”

The post-flight plan for this IFA is to sample urine from the waste tank and analyze it. The urine filter will also be Removed and Replaced (R&Red) and a biocide and citric acid flush of the waste system will be performed.

On the Government Flown Equipment (GFE) side, the first of the two IFAs pertained to a loss of audio in EV-1’s (spacewalker #1’s) CCA (Communications Cap Assembly).

“During the FD-4 EVA-1, EV1 reported loss of CCA headset audio in his right earphone. Shortly thereafter, EV1 reported to not receive audio at all,” notes the presentation. “EV2 adjusted volume control for EV1 and audio was restored temporarily.”

A5A post-EVA comm check revealed good comm for the CCA in question. It was later discovered that moisture was present in the CCA left-ear section. The CCA was dried and a new moisture barrier earphone diaphragm was installed prior to EVA-2.

Nonetheless, during airlock depress operations and comm checks before EVA-2, EV1 again reported faint audio and “did not hear the caution and warning test tones when switched to battery power.”

The volume level was maxed but only faint audio was heard. Real-time troubleshooting efforts yielded marginal results.

“Afterward, a comparison test was performed with other CCA headsets using the EV1 suit. It was determined that the receiver audio level in the prime CCA/CCEM for EV1 was lower than nominal when compared with the other CCA headsets when installed in the same configuration.”

The suspect CCA/CCEM were removed from Atlantis and returned to JSC for troubleshooting and repair efforts.

The issue is not a constraint to any downstream Shuttle flight.

The second and final GFE IFA relates to the gobbling of tapes in the WVS 1 V10.

“When attempting to configure the WVS 1 V10 to support wireless video operations on FD-4, the crew reported the WVS 1 V10 recorder was eating videotapes,” notes the presentation.

The WVS 1 V10 was swapped with the Mon 2 V10 and the EVA proceeded as scheduled.

The WVS 1 V10 was removed from Atlantis and returned to JSC for troubleshooting.

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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