STS-130: Node 3 undergoing installation – NH3 line options protect Feb 7 target

by Chris Bergin

Following a few minor delays due to poor weather at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the arrival of STS-130’s payload to Pad 39A has taken place in the early hours of Monday. Meanwhile, engineers will have several days to play with, following the latest schedule for the arrival of backup NH3 lines to KSC, the second of two options to aid STS-130’s full mission content of installing Node 3 to the Station.

STS-130 Processing Latest:

Endeavour remains in a good stance to be ready for her February 7 launch date, following the resolution of two issues relating to her right hand Solid Rocket Booster (SRB).

“An IPR (Interim Problem Report) was picked up on the right hand SRB system. The decay (leak) rate is greater than allowed. The system fuel QD (Quick Disconnect) is to be R&R’d,” noted KSC Integration on the Shuttle Standup/Integration report (L2).

The issue related to leaks on the Right Rock and Right Tilt FSM (Fuel Supply Module). The two IPRs have since been closed, with good leak checks conducted, as the loading of Hypergolics was completed.

“Orbiter: OV-105 / ET-134 / SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (Pad-A): The team continues to work toward a February 7th launch date. S0024 Hyper Propellant Load: OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) fuel load were successfully completed,” noted processing information (L2).

“IPR 0036 (Right Rock FSM pressure decay) update: A bubble soap leak check and an eight hour decay were performed; both showed no indication of leakage. The IPR is no longer a constraint to load.

“IPR 0037 (Right Tilt FSM pressure drop) update: Leak check was performed with no indications of a leak. The IPR is no longer a constraint to load.”

A2Two new IPRs were also dealt with over the recent flow, as engineers carried out leak checks on the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate (GUCP) – a procedure that has involved a few new processes, all of which have successfully resulted in no leaks during the topping/stable replenish part of the tanking timeline since the issues of STS-119 and STS-127.

“New IPR 0040 for a GSE (Ground Support Equipment) flowmeter delta pressure transducer not functioning; the transducer was successfully R&R’d,” added processing information. “New IPR 0041 to APU: QD MD31 was not mated properly; The QD was re-mated and fuel flow resumed.”

The Node 3 payload was set to already in the Payload Checkout Room (PCR) this weekend, until a hold was called until acceptable weather conditions. The latest plan has the canister containing Node 3 set to be lifted into the PCR in the early hours of Monday. The canister had made it to the pad by around 2am Monday morning.

A3“Vertical payload pre-operations have been rescheduled due to the potential for adverse weather at KSC this weekend. CTS (Call To Stations) is now 0001 Monday, with canister hoist at 0400, followed by payload transfer into the PCR during 1st shift,” noted KSC Integration.

“A constraint (unspecified) identified during the STS-130/20A Payload Readiness Review has been cleared,” added Flight Operations and Integration. “The payload is now cleared for installation.”

Node 3 has been at the center of discussions over recent days due to the failure of ammonia lines during testing. These extended lines will allow for cooling to be provided to the final US module to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS).

With a dual solution approach, KSC engineers are welding several smaller lines together, in order to create a “Franken” hose – while engineers in California beef up the existing lines for delivery to the Cape.

A4At this time, the “Franken” hose solution is the primary path being taken to ensure the full mission content of leaving Node 3 in an operational stance. However, if for some reason it is decided to go with the secondary option, February 7’s launch target should remain on schedule.

“The Stage 20A Operational Readiness Review: MOD is not working any specific issues, but has been helping regarding the hoses for Node 3,” noted the Standup report.

“The SSPCB (Space Station Program Control Board) decided to pursue the option to build the hoses from shorter, already qualified sections. The backup plan to obtain hoses from the vendor is still being pursued as well.

“Regarding the Node 3 ammonia hoses, delivery is scheduled for KSC on February 2, and should be in the workers’ hands NLT (No Later Than) the morning of February 4. This will allow for installation prior to launch on February 7. In addition to the 5 MLE bag, the MLI blankets for the hoses will also be shipped.”

With the launch less than a month away, Space Shuttle Program (SSP) manager John Shannon pre-empted the upcoming Level II and Level I Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs), and praised the work in protecting the launch date by the teams that worked the Node 3 NH3 line solutions.

“It is very important that we remain focused. We are (less than) 25 days away from the next launch, and there is much work to be done and many reviews to be held,” noted Mr Shannon on the Standup report.

“It was great news from the ISSP that a way has been found to get the SSP all of the flight hardware needed to fly the mission.”

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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