STS-130: Endeavour starts chilly rollout Wednesday morning

by Chris Bergin

With all the engineers back from the Christmas holidays, Endeavour is rolling out to Pad 39A on Wednesday morning. Call To Stations (CTS) was put into effect early, as low temperatures on the Space Coast required an extended purge requirement ahead of Endeavour’s adventure into the chilly air during her journey down the crawlerway.

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STS-130 marks the opening mission of five flights on the “current” shuttle schedule, though it is highly likely the launches will be spread out into 2011 – with the possible inclusion of a sixth flight, STS-135.

Without an extension to 2012, this year will also be the last full year of shuttle operations for thousands of skilled engineers at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), a sad situation that is not lost on Space Shuttle Program (SSP) manager John Shannon, who referenced the tough year ahead in his opening address of the year.

“Happy New Year. (I) hope the majority of the team had the chance to take some time off, take some time with family and catch some rest,” noted Mr Shannon on the Shuttle Standup/Integration report (L2).

“Last year was a tough year. It is a tough year ahead of us.

“The focus for your teams is to just get our heads back in the game from the holidays and pick back up where we left off before the holidays last year so we can execute well this year.”

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A2And this year started in earnest with the return to full processing of the orbiters, which opened with the removal of STS-131’s External Tank – ET-135 – from the Pegasus Barge, following its arrival from New Orleans on Christmas Day.

The tank will undergo evaluations in the Checkout Cell inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Wednesday, following its lift from the Transfer Aisle.

“Thanks to colleagues at the Cape for their work to help retrieve the washer. Mr. Shannon added it was a great job by the team getting ET-135 to the Cape over Christmas. It was a great effort,” added the Standup report.

Meanwhile, Endeavour – as the STS-130 stack – will head to Pad 39A, after spending the holidays inside the VAB. The extended stay in the VAB was to allow for maintenance work on Pad Complex 39, which underwent power outages as a matter of routine.

“Over the holiday period, had no planned processing activities. Getting backing into processing,” noted KSC Integration on the Standup report. “At the VAB, will be doing pre-rollout inspection, retracting platforms, and getting into a posture to roll to the pad at 0400 Wednesday morning. Still on track.”

S0044 operations – know as the Launch Countdown Simulation – was also completed on Tuesday, which involves the testing of controller’s reactions to simulated issues during the countdown.

“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 Tuesday,” noted NASA Test Director processing information (L2). Vehicle rollout preparations picked up Monday.

“Call to Stations (CTS) is scheduled for 1700hrs today and first motion is scheduled for at 0400hrs tomorrow. CTS will be initiated earlier than originally planned due to a purge (heaters and purges) requirement and projected low temperatures overnight.”

Endeavour had no issues during her powered down period in the VAB, with only the removal and repair to an area of the ET – following the discovery of an embedded washer – worked ahead of Christmas.

A4Also discussed on Tuesday was the continually refined plan for the amount of sensors that will fly on Endeavour, in order to gain additional data on Main Engine Ignition (MEI) Acoustic and SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) Ignition Overpressure (IOP) Environments.

“At the Noon Board (Tuesday), there will be a couple of waivers. The big item will be the MEI instrumentation plan out of the PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) action given to discuss prior to the tile mod to put the two acoustic sensors on the left RCS (Reaction Control System) stinger,” noted the Standup report.

“Wednesday, the teams are going to look at the engineering, schedule and weather.”

STS-129 debuted MEI related instrumentation, as engineers checked for real data on a potential fatigue concern with the small stinger attach point between the RCS and OMS Pods. Endeavour will spot additional instrumentation, to provide yet more data.

Also building up are the meetings that will discuss all elements of the vehicle and mission at the Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs), including this week’s Payload Readiness Review (PRR).

“The Payload Readiness Review is scheduled for January 7 at 8:00 a.m. ET at KSC. Had a pre-PRR late last year, so a delta pre-PRR will be held to make sure everything is still in line.”

Node-3 and Cupola will be Endeavour’s primary payload, with various other 20A specific middeck payloads, as well as SIMPLEX, MAUI, and SEITE, rounding out the mission’s payload.

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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