NASA Updates OV-103/Discovery End State Requirements

by Chris Gebhardt

One month after the completion of her STS-133 mission, Discovery is nearing completion of Down Mission Processing (DMP) activities inside OPF-2 at the Kennedy Space Center. With DMP nearly complete, technicians will soon begin the initial stages of Transition & Retirement processing on the Shuttle Program’s fleet leader. With this step, technicians will follow a revised/updated Delta End State Flow Review for Discovery, as approved by the Program Requirements Control Board.


A few months ago, at the End State Flow Review (ESFR) for orbiter Discovery, “direction was given to place OV-103 into T&R (Transition & Retirement) processing as soon as practical following wheel stop” on the vehicle’s final mission: STS-133.

As such, a plan was put in place to safe and secure Discovery post-landing and to perform “minimal” DMP. This minimal DMP included the removal of Discovery’s OMS (Orbital Maneuver System) pods and Forward Reaction Control System (FRCS) pod and subsequent shipment of those pods to the Hypergolic Maintenance Facility (HMF) at KSC for initial post-career deservicing. 

Furthermore, at the ESFR, “two self-imposed actions were taken to ensure there were no issues to proceeding directly into T&R following DMP.”

First, the OPO (Orbiter Project Office) and Integrated Logistics (IL) would need to determine if there would be any hardware elements on OV-103 in need of protection as spares for safe flyout STS-134 and STS-135.

Second, a Risk Assessment would need to be performed to verify that T&R processing on OV-103 could be carried out concurrently with flight processing of OV-105 (Endeavour/STS-134) and OV-104 (Atlantis/STS-135) – the results of which would be reported at the Delta End State Flow Review (Delta ESFR) for OV-103.

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OV-103 Spares Supportability Plan for SSP Manifest Flyout:

Upon direction of the ESFR, an investigation occurred to determine what components, if any, from OV-103 would be required for retention as spares for STS-134/Endeavour and STS-135/Atlantis SSP (Space Shuttle Program) manifest flyout.

“OPO worked with IL to determine what hardware should be protected to support flyout of SSP. An assessment was also performed for rollover to the VAB during T&R for OV-103.”

This investigation yielded a list of several select hardware elements from OV-103 for removal during DMP. To this end, all hardware removals have been identified and are planned to occur prior to OV-103’s transfer to VAB HB 4 (Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 4) in late-April/early-May for temporary storage.

All hardware elements not identified as necessary for SSP manifest flyout will remain installed on Discovery. Should their removal become necessary, however, a plan has been adopted to remove these elements either before rollover to the VAB for storage or after transfer of OV-103 in early June to OPF-1 for complete T&R processing.

This plan was approved at the PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting on March 18, 2011.

To accomplish complete protection of OV-103’s hardware elements (those not immediately identified for retention as spares through manifest flyout), Discovery will be hooked up to purge air during all DMP and T&R processing activities. She will even have purge air hook-ups during her one month of storage in VAB HB 4.

According to the late March, 2011 Delta ESFR presentation, available for download on L2, “While in the VAB, hardware can be protected by maintaining full purge on the vehicle.”

The purge would be accomplished through all three (3) purge circuits and drag on crew cabin purge. For this, the orbiter’s vent doors “will be placed in the purge configuration prior to leaving OPF-2 and moving into VAB.”

Should a purge outage occur while in storage in the VAB, no waiver will be taken; however, nominal purge will be restored as soon as possible and all necessary documentation on hardware elements taken for review by potential hardware costumers.

Furthermore, positive pressure on all vehicles compartments will be maintained during VAB storage.

DMP Operations & Maintenance Plan Updates: 

As originally intended and baselined at the OV-103 End State Requirements Review (ESRR) in September 2010, Discovery was originally to be kept in flight-ready condition with only select fluid system de-servicing prior to flyout of the SSP manifest.

“With the new direction to proceed directly into T&R following DMP, updates of the OMP (Operations and Maintenance Plan) may be required.”

Therefore, any changes to the ESRR baselined plan will have to be submitted for review to the GO Project & Requirements Office. The changes will then require the signatures of USA GO / NASA System Engineers and USA Orbiter Elements Representatives prior to implementation.

USA GO Project & Requirements Office will track all changes to the OMP for OV-103, with all changes to the OMP presented to the SSP prior to the completion of DMP on Discovery.

Display Site Requirements:

With confirmation that OV-103/Discovery will be handed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum just outside Washington, D.C. expected on Tuesday, April 12 (the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight and the 30th anniversary of the launch of STS-1/Columbia), discussions regarding Discovery’s specific Display Site Requirements (DSR) and configuration for the Smithsonian can begin.

However, until those discussions are complete, Discovery’s T&R team will process OV-103 toward the SSP’s agreed upon generic orbiter DSR configuration.

As noted by the OV-103 Delta ESFR presentation, “Display Site Requirements (DSR) T&R Team has partnered the baseline display configuration. Configuration is generic to all vehicles. Any future changes or updates to the DSR [will] be handled in accordance with NSTS 07700 Volume XX.”

White Sands Test Facility OMS/RCS Processing:

For Discovery’s FRCS and OMS pods deservicing, a White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) tiger team was developed in October 2010 following a Technical Interchange Meeting to determine specific processing plans for these hardware components as well as a shipment configuration plan.

For shipment to WSTF from KSC’s HMF, all thruster jets will be removed and shipped separately from and before the FRCS and OMS pods. The thruster’s propellant supply lines will also be capped for transport.

For specific deservicing and display configuration processing, the Delta ESFR presentation notes that all “GSE (Ground Support Equipment) has been identified and is being refurbished/fabricated as required.”

Meanwhile, the specific processing plan for Discovery’s OMS pods and FRCS is still being finalized per the Project Management Plan and WSTF Test Directive. This processing flow is being mapped out as an integrated flow for not only Discovery’s OMS and FRCS pods, but Atlantis’s and Endeavour’s as well.

While no insurmountable issues have been identified for the shipment of Discovery’s OMS and FRCS pods, numerous elements for the transport are still under consideration. Not the least of which being STS-Last hardware requirements and impacts -specifically, the potential requirement/desire to keep Discovery’s FRCS and OMS pods in as close to flight-ready condition as possible until the launch of STS-135/Atlantis.

Should this be the desired course of action, Discovery’s overall T&R schedule would only be impacted by two (2) weeks.

Meanwhile, while the OMS pods and FRCS will be taken out of flight-ready condition prior their removal from Discovery, the Delta ESFR presentation notes that they can be returned to flight-ready condition if needed.

Nonetheless, if the pods are not required for future SSP use, several processing steps will need to be completed in the HMF before they can be shipped WSTF. These steps include: system draining, thruster removal & line capping, packaging for shipment, and loading onto commercial carrier vehicles.

Moreover, in terms of STS-Last Orbiter Hardware retention requirements, “JSC Engineering has compiled a list of hardware to be retained” through the flyout of the SSP manifest. This list was compiled with the assistance of KSC Engineering, SLS (Space Launch System), WSTF, and the NESC (NASA Engineering Safety Council).

These requirements have been implemented into the DMP and T&R processing schedules for Discovery.

Specifically, some of these STS-Last hardware elements are the payload bay ROUEs, ELC (Express Logistics Carrier) keels, DragonEYE DTO, LWAPA, payload bay & umbilical cameras, TSAs (Tool Stowage Assemblies), winches, PFR, and OBSS (Orbiter Boom Sensor System) sensor palates.

Replica Shuttle Main Engines Status:

Unlike the OMS pods and FRCS, which will be reinstalled onto Discovery as part of her final museum display configuration, her tell-tale and stalwart Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) will not be returned to her.

Instead, as previous reported by, Discovery and her sisters will be fitted with Replica Shuttle Main Engines (RSMEs).

The previously-flown SSMEs will be retained by NASA for use on the SD HLV, slated for official unveiling and contract bidding later this year.

For the RSMEs, NASA has completed dynamics/stress analysis review on the Ferry strut configuration of the RSMEs, design reviews, nozzle adaptor drawing release to vendors for bids, and OV-103 RSME installation plan.

It will take vendors ~3 months to fabricate and deliver the first set of the three (3) nozzle adaptors. 

Fabrication of all nine (9) RSME nozzles for Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour is currently in-work at Canoga Park. RMSE installation and closeout plans for all three orbiters are also in-work at this time, as is the overall RMSE risk assessment.

In all, KSC need dates for the finished RSMEs for OV-103/Discovery is July 5, 2011, October 3, 2011 (coincidentally, the 26th anniversary of Atlantis’s maiden voyage) for Atlantis/OV-104, and March 5, 2012 for Endeavour/OV-105.

Forward Plan for OV-103:
With DMP currently in work on Discovery, the Delta ESFR presentation team concluded that all T&R early start work for OV-103 can be accomplished in conjunction with flight processing for sisters Atlantis and Endeavour.

Furthermore, at the conclusion of DMP, Discovery will be ready to begin T&R processing in accordance with NSTS 07700 Volume XX. As such, Discovery will not be maintained in flight-ready status through the flyout of the SSP manifest.

“The plan for full-up T&R processing is ready for implementation, and the teams are requesting approval to start T&R processing at completion of DMP.”

((Further articles will follow, as we follow Discovery all the way to the exhibition. L2 members refer to L2’s ongoing coverage sections for internal coverage, presentations, images and and updates from engineers and managers. Images via, L2 documentation and Larry Sullivan – MaxQ Entertainment/

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