Endeavour on track as FD Alibaruho rallies troops in an Adama-style address

by Chris Bergin

Endeavour is continuing to enjoy a smooth pad flow as she is prepared for Sunday morning’s STS-130 launch – a welcome switch of attention, as workforce opposition to President Obama’s proposed forward plan for NASA shows no signs of abating. The concerns have seen several managers address their teams, though none are as impressive as lead Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho – which even cited from Battlestar Galactica in a superb rallying call.

STS-130 Pad Flow Latest:

Endeavour has two major milestones upcoming over the next 24 hours or so, with the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) on Saturday morning, followed by the start External Tank loading (tanking) in the evening.

“Comm. activation will pick up tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 0200 EST. RSS retract to the ‘Park’ position is scheduled to begin at 0800 EST tomorrow. ET tank load is scheduled to begin at 1914 EST tomorrow evening,” outlined upcoming milestones.

“Sunday Crew ingress is scheduled for 0119 EST. Launch is scheduled for Sunday at 0439 EST. Weather is 70 percent Go for Launch, primary concern is high winds at Pad-A.”

Managers met for the L-2 Mission Management Team (MMT) meeting on Friday morning, with no major issues reported. Two additional IPRs (Interim Problem Reports) were noted by the NASA Test Director (NTD), both of which hold no impact to the S0007 (Launch Countdown) flow – the first of which related to a power loss in the local area.

“Orbiter: OV-105 / ET-134 / SRB BI-141 / RSRM 109 (Pad-A): Launch Countdown is progressing well. New IPR 0051 Facility Power Interruption (FPL): At 1738 EST, there was a momentary facility power fluctuation that affected large areas of KSC (Kennedy Space Center) and CCAFS (Cape Canaveral Air Force Station).

“The fluctuation was due to a FPL relay fault at the Barna substation. (Engineering) reports that no vehicle power interruptions occurred (and) hardware supporting Pad A is nominal.

“While some KSC systems were momentarily affected, nothing significant to launch operations was damaged or off-line more than momentarily.”

The other issue related specifically to the Pad 39A flow, which required two repair efforts due to leaks in the Power Reactant Storage and Distributation (PRSD) GO2 system during loading.

“New IPR 0052 Leak in PRSD GO2 System: At 1920 EST, (Engineering) reported that the GO2 Battery pressure decayed approximately 200 psi over the course of several hours, with no reported usage,” noted the NTD on processing information on Friday (L2).

“Confirmed the pressure drop and suspect a leak in panel on the 75′ level. Was able to isolate and repair the leak. Following the repair, a second leak in the Primary T-0 Leg was detected. Isolated the Primary Leg to stop the leak and PRSD load was completed using the Secondary Leg.

“Following the completion of PRSD load, additional troubleshooting performed to isolate and repair the second leak. The GO2 battery is currently at 5208 psi. If pressure remains >5000 psi, no recharge will be required.”

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

This system is not expected to be an issue, as engineers understand the problem – which will ultimately remove it as a constraint to Final GSE (Ground Support Equipment) preps for Fuel Cell Activation.

A Few Thoughts Prior to Launch – Mr Alibaruho:

Fans of the shuttle program are well aware of Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho’s talents since elevating into the attentions of the media via his appointment as the first African-American to lead Mission Control. However, it’s his talent with the teams under his stewardship as Flight Director that isn’t often seen outside of the Johnson Space Center (JSC).

With thousands of space industry workers extremely concerned with the current plan proposed in President Obama’s FY2011 budget, the need for leadership at the NASA management level is obvious.

While NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden attempts to sell the plan to the workforce – the latest effort via an All Hands meeting at the heavily-affected Kennedy Space Center (KSC) – by far the most impressive, and more so objective, evaluation of the budget proposal has come from managers at the sharp end of operations.

Mr Alibaruho’s is arguably the most impressive of the large collection of addresses acquired by L2 to date.

“I know many of us have watched with great interest as the President’s 2011 budget proposal was unveiled. The President’s plan and direction for the Agency calls for a dramatic restructuring of the Constellation Program, including indefinite suspension of plans for returning humans to the moon, and an expansion of support for development of commercial interests in space and Earth Sciences interests.

“There will be much dialogue between the President and the Congress before a final direction is codified.

“Such redirection can be incredibly challenging; however, it is especially difficult for many since we are at the beginning of what is to be the last year of the Space Shuttle Program. It is at these times that we are reminded that we are agents of the United States Government and servants of the Executive Branch. We are living in difficult times, and such times call for leadership.

“Leadership is not about making everyone happy, although it would be nice if one could. Real leadership is about setting a direction, developing a plan, leveraging resources, and making the difficult trades demanded by the difficult times.”

Mr Alibaruho noted such wide-ranging changes of direction aren’t anything new for NASA – which has become as much a recurring theme as references to the forward path still subject to Congressional approval.

“A few years ago, President George W. Bush and (then) Administrator Mike Griffin made some difficult trades in order to set the Vision for Space Exploration on its path. Many in the NASA community (particularly the Science Directorates) and affected constituencies had significant reservations and concerns about the painful trades required to set that Vision in motion.

“There was heated discussion between the former Administration and the Congress about those trades and the impacts. Fast forward to 2010 and a different set of challenges, a different Administration, a different Vision, unrelenting constraints, and, once again, painful trades.”

The main drive of Mr Alibaruho’s address came in the form of a brilliant rallying call to his troops ahead of STS-130, which included the citing of lines from the critically acclaimed “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica, mixed in with a passionate call to arms that would not seem out of place had it come from the mouth Admiral Adama himself. The following requires no further introduction.

“Please, do NOT be discouraged. This is not the end, by any means. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again. This is part of the natural process that is endemic to our special and enduring system of government. This is the nature of the process by which policy is made.

“But we are not policy makers. We are executors and stewards of a unique trust. History will barely remember the underlying fiscal and political factors that drove this policy and the subsequent direction for NASA, but what history will record in bold letters is how we perform.”

“We will launch and execute the STS-130 / ISS-20A mission. As some of the stewards of our country’s interest in human spaceflight, we have committed to this mission. We have designed it. We and our crew have trained for it even as other teams and other crews train for the remaining four missions that will follow it.

“Focus and safety are our highest priorities. Mission success is our mandate. Failure may not be an option, but it is a relentless predator constantly watching to find us distracted or asleep at the wheel.

“We will not fail to complete our assignment because we are Vigilant, Disciplined, Tough, and Competent. We will walk the halls of Mission Control with pride because Shuttle’s powerful boosters can only get the vehicle into orbit. It is our Morale, our will, and that of our crew that will actually move the mission from beginning to a successful end. We will not compromise in this.

“We have a few days until launch. Tie down the loose ends. Enjoy the time you have with your friends and your families. On Sunday, February 7th, we take the hill. You are an awesome team, unlike any other in the World. Let’s do what we do.”

L2 members: Documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, now over 4500 gbs in size

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