Mission Operations Directorate FRR Presents STS-132/ULF-4 Special Topics

by Chris Gebhardt

With less than three weeks to go before the launch of the STS-132 mission, Space Shuttle Program (SSP) managers are gearing up for the second of three Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs) this week – the SSP FRR. Meanwhile, the MOD has already completed their FRR, presenting special topics for Ascent/Entry and New ISS and Shuttle Operations that will be under consideration for Atlantis’ flight.

Ascent/Entry Topics:

Contained within the expansive and detailed STS-132/ULF-4 Flight Director’s presentation to the MOD FRR were three Ascent/Entry topics: Launch Window Cutouts, landing runway considerations, and an update to a weather satellite from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group.

For the Launch Window Cutouts, the presentation notes that a new Air Force COLlision Avoidance (COLA) cutout methodology will begin with STS-132.

“New Air Force process changes: Entire launch window screened against the entire debris catalog instead of only ‘mannable’ satellites,” notes the Flight Director’s MOD FRR presentation – available for download on L2.

Under the new screening procedure, “active satellites” will be screened using a 8x30x30 km “ellipsoid for shuttle only” as well as the potential screening of debris using a 2.56 km sphere.

The new screening procedure will result in higher safety margins for the Shuttle orbiter immediately following insertion into their preliminary orbit.

While the entire debris catalogue will now be screened for post-insertion conjunction threats, the actual effect to the STS-132/ULF-4 launch window is expected to be minimal.

In all, the new procedure should not result in more than “~4 cutouts where launch would be prohibited.”

No change to the pre-flight MOD processes where required to accommodate this change and full screening will still be maintained for in-plane, +15-, and +30-second screening operations.

Nonetheless, a “waiver process is still in development between the Launch Integration Manager and the 45th Space Wing.”

The second special topic in the Ascent/Entry category pertained to the use of the Moron, Spain runway in the event that a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) became necessary during Atlantis’ launch.

“MORON Runaway Construction: (Start: April 12 – Complete: May 1, 2010),” notes the MOD FRR presentation.

Construction at the north end of the Moron runway (MRN 20) began on April 12 and displaced the threshold of the runway by 1,000 ft. As a result, the PAPIs (Precision Approach Path Indicators) and “Ball Bar” setup for a Space Shuttle landing became unavailable.

Since the “Ball Bar” is mandatory for Space Shuttle TAL runway support, Moron is currently No Go to support a Shuttle landing.

While this work on the Moron runway is expected to be completed by May 1, a review of the situation at Moron was presented in the MOD FRR just in case the work is not complete by the time Atlantis makes her opening launch attempt in mid-May.

However, MRN 20 was not the only runway to gain mention during the MOD FRR; the recently modified Edwards Air Force Base runway also gained note – mostly due to the fact that the permanent runway will be back in operation and ready to support STS-132.

“Edwards Permanent runway will be available for landing operations,” notes the Flight Director’s presentation.

As NASASpaceFlight.com’s Phillip Sloss reported prior to the launch of Discovery/STS-131 earlier this month, the Dryden Flight Research Center personnel’s plan at Edwards Air Force Base was to move all landing aides back to the permanent runway once Discovery/STS-131 landed safely.

“Our plans right now are, we land (STS-131) on the 18th (of April), the MSBLS (Microwave Scanning Beam Landing System) guys come back in and start their move on the 19th, we’ll have it relocated and back on the main runway in time for the STAs (Shuttle Training Aircrafts),” stated George Grimshaw, head of NASA’s Shuttle and Flight Ops Support Office at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

“The 132 crew will [then] come back and fly [the STAs] on the 26th of April and then we send some data back to the landing folks at KSC, They’ll get that to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and then, on the 1st and 2nd of May, the FAA will come out and fly the certification and we’ll be ready to go for STS-132.”

The MOD FRR affirms these dates, with the final FAA certification occurring on May 1 and 2, with backup opportunities on May 8 and 9.

After these certifications are complete, the Air Force will officially transfer operations back to the permanent runway at Edwards on May 10.

The final Ascent/Entry topic from the MOD FRR relates to the Spaceflight Meteorology Group.

“GOES-13 replaces GOES-12 (weather satellite) as the operational satellite on April 14,” notes the presentation.

Data from the GOES-13 satellite has already been tested and no issues were identified, nor are any expected for STS-132.

Additionally, an AWIPS (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) terminal server and console is being replaced now that STS-131 is complete. The terminal/console in question is an administrative console and thus carries a low risk of interfering with STS-132 weather forecasting operations.

STS-132 Specific Articles: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/sts-132/

New Operations:

Also contained within the MOD FRR Flight Director’s presentation were three (3) new operations debuting during and immediately following STS-132.

The first new operation pertains to Atlantis and the MRM-1 (Mini-Russian Research Module -1).  Specially, the MRM-1 module will be powered up in Atlantis’ Payload Bay shortly after Atlantis reaches orbit on Flight Day 1 (FD-1).

Power will be fed to MRM-1 by Atlantis through the use of a ROEU (Remotely Operated Electrical Umbilical) from activation on FD-1 through the MRM-1 powerdown prior to unberth on FD-5.

This ROEU will provide MRM-1 power for “Terminal Computer Unit (TCU), Thermal Control System (TCS) Cooling Pumps, and Cabin Fan/Smoke Detectors,” notes the MOD FRR presentation.

Furthermore, “MRM-1 Command and Telemetry interface [will be] provided through Orbiter via Orbiter Interface Units (OIU)/Payload Signal Processor (PSP), and Payload MDMs (Multiplexer/Demultiplexers).”

Moreover, INCO (INstrumentation and Communication Officer) in Mission Control Center (MCC) Houston will send commands to MRM-1 (while the module is in Atlantis’ Payload Bay) on behalf of MCC-Moscow via “approved protocols/processes.”

The second new operation during STS-132 will occur from the ISS side during the docked phase of the mission.

“MRM-1 module operations while on SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System): MRM-1 repower on SSRMS will reactivate Terminal Computer Unit (TCU), Thermal Control System (TCS) Cooling Pump, and Cabin Fan/Smoke Detector power, all powered via SNTs (different power source than when in payload bay),” notes the presentation.

Following MRM-1’s removal from Atlantis’ Payload Bay via the SRMS (Shuttle Remote Manipulator System), and handoff to the SSRMS, the MRM-1’s Automated Docking System (ADS) will be powered up. This will occur once the SSRMS has positioned MRM-1 in the “pre-docking” position – 150cm from the docking interface.

Following powerup of the ADS, the MRM-1 docking probe will be extended and an internal MRM-1 docking camera will be activated – all while the module is attached only to the SSRMS.

Crewmembers inside the ISS will perform final alignments of the MRM-1 at a distance of 90cm from the docking interface.

Then, “Once contact sensors indicate positioning for installation, the MRM-1 TCU will execute an automated docking routine to draw the interfaces together, close hooks, and return the docking probe to a fully retracted position.”

Additionally, MRM-1 will be the first permanent ISS module to be installed via use of the Robotic Works Station (RWS) in the newly arrived Cupola viewing module – a module brought up to the ISS on the STS-130/20A mission in February of this year.

“MRM-1 install and EVA support planned from Cupola RWS in Cupola. Cupola location of RWS not mandatory, but Cupola windows provided enhanced situational awareness for robotics,” notes the MOD FRR presentation.

The third and final new operation noted by the MOD FRR pertains to the ISS Stage immediately following the STS-132 mission – known internally as the ULF-4 stage.

This new operation relates to the Sabatier, which uses hydrogen from the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) and Carbon Dioxide from the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) to make water.

New regeneration ECLESS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) equipment for this system was flown up to the ISS on the STS-131/19A flight earlier this month and checkout procedures of the new system will be ongoing once Atlantis’ mission at the ISS is complete.

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