Status Report

NASA Space Shuttle Processing Status 22 November 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
November 22, 2005
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Mission: STS-121 – 18th ISS Flight (ULF1.1) – Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3
Launch Date: TBD – No earlier than May 2006
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Lindsey, Kelly, Sellers, Fossum, Nowak, Wilson and Reiter
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Technicians continue to process Discovery in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3 for NASA’s second space shuttle Return to Flight test mission, STS-121. Powered-up system testing continues. The processing facility was cleared over the weekend for waterproofing of the payload bay door hingeline.

Thermography of the wing leading edge Reinforced Carbon-Carbon panels is complete. Thermography is the non-destructive technique put in place following the Columbia accident to search for microscopic flaws in the panels. These post-flight inspections have identified two areas that will be repaired prior to the next flight.

Mission: STS-115 – 19th ISS Flight (12A) – P3/P4 Solar Arrays
Vehicle: Atlantis (OV-104)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1
Launch Date: TBD
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Jett, Ferguson, Tanner, Burbank, MacLean and Stefanyshyn-Piper
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Atlantis processing continues on schedule in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1 for its mission to the International Space Station. Reaction jet driver wire inspections and chafe protection work continue in the forward and aft areas of the vehicle.

Thermal protection system gap filler inspections and measurements continue in the shuttle’s forward and midbody areas. Currently, all zones are identified and mapping is complete in nine of the 10 zones. This work is being performed after two gap fillers were found protruding from the underside of Discovery on this summer’s Return to Flight mission, STS-114. New installation procedures are being developed to ensure the gap fillers stay in place and do not pose any hazard on re-entry to the atmosphere.

Endeavour (OV-105)

Technicians continue to process Endeavour in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2, following a nearly two-year major modification period. The landing gear seal and gap measurements are complete and the gear is scheduled to be retracted today.

Work continues around Endeavour’s nose cap, including Thermal Protection System blanket installation and chin panel tile work. The chin panel is the semi-circle shaped section of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon that fits under the nose cap.

External Tank

At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, shuttle engineers continue evaluating the causes of the foam loss on Discovery’s launch. Detailed inspections of the Protuberance Air Load (PAL) ramp of external tank #120 are providing valuable data. During inspections, several small cracks were detected in the PAL ramp. Engineers do not yet fully understand these cracks, but they are unlikely to have caused foam loss. Engineers plan to address PAL ramp foam loss on the upcoming mission by removing the foam, then reapplying it with new procedures.

NASA is also working to prevent inadvertent worker damage to external tanks. This is suspected as a contributing factor to the loss of foam from the PAL ramp on Discovery. Preliminary assessments indicate that work area mats provide adequate protection, but more tests are planned over the next six weeks.

Engineers and technicians also continue investigating the reason for the fuel sensor anomalies that delayed the launch of Discovery in July. Engineers will look at sensors inside one of the tanks at Michoud and run tests with an orbiter point sensor box.

SpaceRef staff editor.