All three orbiters enjoying busy flows – Atlantis has her nose cap repaired

by Chris Bergin

With Endeavour undergoing pad validation work – as engineers make the hundreds of connections to prepare her for launch in a month’s time – processing of her older sisters, Atlantis and Discovery, is pushing ahead. While STS-131’s boosters are being stacked inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), work has been completed on repairs to Atlantis’ nose cap.

STS-130 Latest:

Following Wednesday’s rollout to Pad 39A, the STS-130 stack is being hooked up to the numerous systems that will aid her February 7 launch – which is part of the pad validation work known as S0009 operations.

“Orbiter: OV-105 / ET-134 / SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (Pad-A): The team is working towards a February 7th launch date. SSV (Space Shuttle Vehicle) rollout first motion began at 0413 yesterday and was harddown at pad A at 1037,” noted Thursday processing information on L2.

“S0009, launch pad validation continues. GUCP (Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate) electrical mates are complete. Measurements for GUCP plate alignment will be performed on 1st shift due to the low temperatures at the pad.

“Engine/aerosurface flight readiness testing is scheduled for today and will be followed by He (Helium) signature testing tomorrow. Preparations for S0024 are also scheduled to begin today. CTS (Call To Stations) for prelaunch propellant servicing is scheduled for next Monday.”

STS-130 Specific Articles:

While the Hydraulic Power Units (HPU) carts were transported from the fuel farm to the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) zero level in the morning, engineers wasted no time in accessing a set of doors on Endeavour’s left Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) Pod, allowing them to start work on the installation of a final set of sensors.

A2These sensors – additional to the suite that flew with Atlantis on STS-129 – will be used to gain additional data on Main Engine Ignition (MEI) Acoustic and SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) Ignition Overpressure (IOP) Environments.

“Removal of the OMS 59-45/49 doors was completed last night and sent to OPF-3 (Orbiter Processing Facility) for main engine overpressure instrumentation outfitting,” added the NASA Test Director on the processing report.

Meanwhile, the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) meetings for STS-130 have picked up, with the MOD FRR taking place on Thursday – 12 FRR presentations from that meeting are available on L2.

A large amount of work – as per usual – will be undertaken by the FRRs, with the DA Staff notes on L2 this week noting “296 CRs (Change Requests) are still open for STS-130. There are two close out meeting this week and one next week on 1/13.”

STS-131 Latest:

A3Over in OPF-3, Discovery is deep in preparation for her STS-131 mission, which will deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) via the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and the Light-weight Multipurpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier (LMC).

Secured inside the MPLM will be Zero-G stowage racks, an EXPRESS rack, a Muscle Atrophy Resistive Exercise (MARES) unit, a Window Orbital Research Facility (WORF), one Crew Quarters Rack, a Minus 80 deg Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), Resupply Stowage Racks (RSRs), as well as Resupply Stowage Platforms (RSPs).

Highlighting the veteran orbiter’s flow this week is the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), which will be carried out on Friday and Saturday.

“Payload Bay Door opening and KuBand antenna deploy were successfully completed. Potable water servicing is completed. Main Landing Gear wheel and tire assembly installation was also completed,” noted NTD processing information (L2). Stowing and preps for CEIT begun and continues through Thursday. CEIT is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

“SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) dome heat shield installations and splice line close outs are in work on all three engines through this week. CCTV comm system checks are complete and good.”

STS-131 Specific Articles:

Work had already begun on stacking STS-131’s boosters in the High Bay 3 area of the VAB, prior to the rollout of Endeavour’s STS-130 stack – with Right Aft Booster (Hold Down Post) HDP stud tensioning complete ahead of the center segments of the boosters being added.

“SRB BI-142 / RSRM 110 (VAB HB-3) Stacking is scheduled today with the Left Aft Center (LAC) segment,” added Thursday’s report on STS-131’s status.

The final element of the stack’s jigsaw – the External Tank (ET-135) – is now safely installed into the Checkout Cell in High Bay 4’s E cell, where it will undergo post shipping evaluations.

“The ET was lifted to HB-4E on Wednesday. Post ops and Shake down inspections are in work,” added processing information, with its final lift over to the STS-131 stack due to take place in around a week or so – pending the ET/SRB mate review.

STS-132 Latest:

In OPF-1, Atlantis is being processing for her STS-132 mission that will be the 132nd flight of the Shuttle Program and the 34th shuttle flight dedicated to construction and outfitting of the International Space Station. The flight of Atlantis will utilize External Tank ET-136, Reusable Solid Rocket Motor set 111, Solid Rocket Booster BI set 143, and operational software OI-34.

A4The primary payload for the mission is the Russian Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1) and Integrated Cargo Carrier – Vertical Lightweight Deployable (ICC-VLD) pallet. The MRM-1 will be mounted toward the aft of the payload bay while the ICC-VLD will be berthed in the center for both launch and reentry.

A key element of the mission’s preparations was carried out by Space Shuttle Program (SSP) managers at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) on Thursday, with the Delta Launch Site Review (DLSR) Program Freeze Point presentation being overviewed at the Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) meeting – with the superb 106 page presentation on the mission available on L2. Russian FRR documents are also available.

Atlantis has the largest amount of processing to go until she launches in May, following her recent return from the highly successful STS-129 mission. Part of the recent flow has seen work completed on repairing the large nose cap on the orbiter, which was deemed necessary after thermographic inspections.

“Did get the nose cap repair completed. Will be doing NDE (Non Destructive Evaluations) on that,” noted KSC Integration, which added three windows will also be replaced – which is nominal for a post flight flow. “Will be working Windows 1, 6 & 8 R&R, and starting into removal of the RCCs (Reinforced Carbon Carbon) on the RH wing. Will be pulling down RCCs #1 thru 9 and LH RCC #6.”

As of Thursday, work had been completed up to the replacement of Window 8, as other scheduled processing work continues on other areas of the orbiter.

“Hydraulic isolation valve X-rays were completed this morning. The ET door push test is scheduled to pick up this morning,” added Thursday NTD processing information.

“APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) thermostat troubleshooting and R&R began yesterday and continues today. The Microwave Scanning Beam Landing System (MSBLS) system test is scheduled to pick up today. Window 8 R&R is scheduled to begin today.”

STS-132 Specific Articles:

A sign of just how busy the three orbiter flows have become can be seen in the Rotation Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF), with the boosters for STS-132 – three launches away – already in build-up.

“Left Aft Booster build-up: Systems tunnel cable installation; tunnel cable securing is complete. O/I Strut Cable Check-out; Cable testing is in work,” added processing information.

“Right Aft Booster build-up: ETA ring hardware installation; ETA ring hardware torque is complete. Ninety Degree splice plate is ready to work. Stiffener Ring Installation; Stiffener Ring inspections are complete. Installation is ready to work.”

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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