Status Report

NASA Space Shuttle Processing Status 17 March 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
March 17, 2006
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NASA’s space shuttle fleet is housed and processed at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Mission: STS-121 – 18th International Space Station Flight (ULF1.1) – Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3
Launch Date: Launch Planning Window July 1-19, 2006
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Lindsey, Kelly, Sellers, Fossum, Nowak, Wilson and Reiter
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

On Tuesday, Space Shuttle Program management announced Discovery’s new launch planning window of July 1 to 19. This window provides the agency time to change the shuttle’s external fuel tank engine cutoff sensors and to perform additional engineering analysis to ensure a safe flight for Discovery and its crew.

Discovery’s damaged remote manipulator system (shuttle arm) was removed from the payload bay on Tuesday. The lower section of the arm is en route to Canada today, so repairs can begin on the damaged section.

Leak checks were successfully completed on all three space shuttle main engines, and thermal protection system foaming operations around the engines are under way. Removal and replacement of windows Number 3 and 5 have begun. Although the windows in the vehicle meet specification, the new ones have been tested to a higher pressure.

Mission: STS-115 – 19th International Space Station Flight (12A) – P3/P4 Solar Arrays
Vehicle: Atlantis (OV-104)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1
Launch Date: No earlier than Aug. 28, 2006
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Jett, Ferguson, Tanner, Burbank, MacLean and Stefanyshyn-Piper
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

The vehicle was powered up March 10. Work continues with powered up system testing. Main propulsion system leak and functional checks were completed on Tuesday, with final space shuttle main engine operations continuing once engine No. 3 is installed.

Endeavour (OV-105)

In Orbiter Processing Facility bay 2, work continues on Endeavour following an extensive modification period. Installation is under way on a new modification called the station-to-shuttle power transfer system. It will enable the shuttle to stay docked longer than normal to the space station.

On Wednesday, technicians completed the leak-check requirements to support the multi-purpose logistics module.

External Tank

Following a two-day engineering discussion to determine whether one of the four external tank engine cutoff (ECO) sensors needed to be changed, program management decided to remove and replace all four liquid hydrogen sensors in the external tank. These sensors indicate whether the tank still has fuel during its climb to orbit. During normal testing, one of the four ECO sensors had a slightly different reading than was expected, and its performance in flight was questioned.

The work will be completed at Kennedy in the Vehicle Assembly Building’s external tank checkout cell. The change out will be performed by technicians from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility who are most familiar with this particular work. The replacement of the sensors will take approximately 22 days to complete and is scheduled to begin on Monday.

SpaceRef staff editor.