Status Report

NASA Space Shuttle Processing Status Report 31 March 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
April 1, 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

Final powered-up systems testing and area closeouts continue in preparation for Discovery’s move to the Vehicle Assembly Building no earlier than May 12. Final closeouts on the shuttle’s main engines continue with thermal protection system foaming operations around them. Engine configuration for rollover was performed Thursday, which was followed by platform removal and final inspections.

Work continues on the thermal protection system and thermal barriers for the nose landing gear. The landing gear functional test is set for next week. The lower section of the remote manipulator system, or shuttle arm, returned to Kennedy today following repairs by the vendor in Canada. Shuttle technicians inadvertently damaged the arm slightly March 4. The arm will be retested prior to reinstallation.

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

Technicians continue performing powered-up system testing on Atlantis for its mission to the International Space Station. Water coolant loop servicing continues following the removal and replacement of the water coolant loop No. 2 pump package.

Preparations began today for the orbiter boom sensor system’s installation into Atlantis’ payload bay on Monday. The 50-foot-long boom attaches to the shuttle arm and is one of the new safety measures added prior to Return to Flight last year. It equips the orbiter with cameras and laser systems to inspect the shuttle’s heat shield while in space.

Endeavour (OV-105)

Powered-up system testing continues on Endeavour in Orbiter Processing Facility bay 2 following an extensive modification period. Work continues in preparation for the external airlock’s installation into the payload bay, which is set for next week.

On April 3, technicians will begin operations to install the reinforced carbon-carbon nose cap. Rigging operations continue on the manipulator positioning mechanisms, which support the remote manipulator system and orbiter boom sensor system. The mechanisms serve as pedestals that hold the shuttle arm and boom in the payload bay.

External Tank

Work is under way in the Vehicle Assembly Building checkout cell on the external tank that will fly on mission STS-121. Technicians are removing and replacing the tank’s four liquid hydrogen engine cutoff sensors, which indicate whether the tank still has fuel during its climb to orbit.

On Monday, technicians began removing thermal protection system foam around the bottom of the tank in an area known as the “manhole.” The manhole was removed Tuesday to allow technicians to gain access into the tank, and on Thursday the sensors and mounting bracket were removed. The sensors were shipped back to the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for inspection.

Work is also under way to install a new gaseous oxygen vent valve under the nose cap of the tank. While technicians were beginning to work around the nose cap area this week, a light stand that was being repositioned fell, contacting the tank. The lamp struck the composite nosecone and adjacent foam insulation, causing minor damage. Any repairs will be performed in the Vehicle Assembly Building checkout cell.

SpaceRef staff editor.