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TECH - SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY PREPARATIONS

 

 

Countdown to Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

Space shuttle Discovery launch progress - a countdown from DWS

Launch postponed - New date not announced 

Today's Return to Flight launch of Space Shuttle Discovery has been postponed due to an issue with a low-level fuel cutoff sensor onboard the vehicle. The sensor protects an orbiter's main engines by triggering them to shut down in the event fuel runs unexpectedly low. Mission managers are currently assessing the problem. More information will be announced as it becomes available.

earlier story: As launch nears, Nasa's Angie Daniels juggles tanks, taxes and triplets 

DISCOVERY SPACE SHULLTE LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY - MISSION STS-114

Space Shuttle Discovery past launches and images

PAST  DISCOVERY SHUTTLE MISSION PHOTOS
 

Archived stories from the past below:

March 5, 2005

As Earth readies to send its denizens back to space again, inhabitants of the International Space Station can't wait to receive the visitors from Mother Earth. It has been over two years since the crew of the International Space Station saw a human-bearing US ship dock by. The crash of Space Shuttle Columbia had grounded the entire space shuttle fleet. 

Two years and a lot of hard work later, it seems like the shuttle is going to lift off again. As Nasa burns the midnight oil to send its people back to space, high up above the clouds, anticipation soars. Meanwhile, the robot spacecraft Progress makes its way to the International Space Station, to deliver supplies to the astronauts on board and bring back trash.

The Columbia accident led to the CAIB - the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Board submitted its recommendations to make space travel safer. Nasa has completed several suggestions put out by the Board and have prepped up the launch vehicle - this time, Space Shuttle Discovery will lift off to space. It will meet up with the International Space Station, flying in low orbit in space above Earth. Nasa expects to see off its space travellers by Mid-May 2005 -- that is less than three months!

Scientists at Nasa are methodically going about their task of preparing the launch vehicle. There is little doubt at the Nasa headquarters: this time, the space shuttle round trip HAS to be a success. At Dancewithshadows.com, we are excited too! Here is the DWS tracker which will update you on the developments, right up to the launch and return of Space Shuttle Discovery. Spacewatchers, watch this space!!

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Space Station talks to Texas students, unloads cargo from Progress craft

March 5, 2005

This week, the International Space Station crew welcomed the Progress cargo spacecraft. Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov spent some of the early part of the week preparing for the Wednesday docking of the unpiloted Russian cargo carrier, and much of yesterday and today unloading it. The Progress docked at 3:10 p.m. EST, Wednesday with over 2.3 tonnes of equipment and supplies. This is the 17th Progress to go to the Station.
 

Progress has brought 160-day supply of food, plus spare parts and equipment for the Russian environmental control system and toilet. Cameras and telephoto lenses to photograph thermal protection tiles on the Space Shuttle Discovery during its Return to Flight mission in May were also delivered. The cargo includes a new heat exchanger for the U.S Quest airlock, which is expected to faciliate resumption of US spacewalks.

Early-week preparations involved Sharipov setting up and practicing with a manual docking system for use in the unlikely event of a problem with the automated docking system. But the automated system functioned without a glitch. Cheers!

Unloading activities included entering items of the cargo into the Inventory Management System, a computerized bar code system that keeps track of items aboard the Station.

In preparation for Progress activities, crew members shifted their sleep period later, getting their wakeup tone at about 6:30 a.m. EST instead of the standard 1 a.m. EST much of the week. They will return gradually to their usual schedule.

Chiao and Sharipov continued daily exercise sessions, did scheduled maintenance on Station systems and participated in several medical and other scientific experiments.

The crew talked with high school students in the Levelland, Texas, area on Monday. Late yesterday, Chiao radioed congratulations to Steve Fossett, (await DWS report on Steve Fossett soon!!) who completed a three-day, non-stop, solo around-the-world flight without refueling. For comparison, Chiao and Sharipov circle the Earth more than 15 times a day, as they have for four months.

Information about crew activities on the Space Station, future launch dates and Station sighting opportunities is available on the Internet at:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

Space shuttle processing status report

March 5, 2005

Technicians continue to process space shuttle Discovery in preparation for the rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). In Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3, orbiter system testing is almost complete on Discovery for its mission (STS-114) to the International Space Station.

Preparing for payload bay door closure, processing continues with work on the Boom Manipulator Positioning Mechanism assembly fasteners, installation and verification of the Remote Manipulator System camera, and inspections of the airlock wiring. Thermal Protection System blanket bonding continues on the Rudder Speed Brake. Main landing gear thermal barrier installations are complete. On Monday, the External Tank was mated to its twin Solid Rocket Boosters in the VAB. (See details below)

Prior to orbiter Discovery joining the stack, final closeouts on the External Tank will include attaching the new bolt catcher and electrical cable connections, as well as installing an aerodynamic fairing and the bi-pod struts, which are the attach points for the nose of the orbiter to the tank.

Rack installation into the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello began today and is scheduled to continue through mid-March. Raffaello will deliver a variety of supplies, to include clothing, food and spare parts. The Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) science rack will be installed at the beginning of next week. HRF-2 will deliver additional biomedical instrumentation and research capability to the Station. HRF-1 contains an ultrasound unit and gas analyzer system and has been operational in the U.S. Lab since May 2001. Both racks provide structural, power, thermal, command and data handling, and communication and tracking interfaces between the HRF biomedical instrumentation and the U.S. Lab, Destiny.

Atlantis

Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1

Launch Date: Launch Planning Window July 12 - July 31, 2005

Launch Pad: 39B

Crew: Lindsey, Kelly, Sellers, Fossum, Nowak and Wilson

Meanwhile, processing continues on Atlantis in Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) bay 1 for its mission, (STS-121) to the Station. Water coolant loop No. 2 was de-serviced in support of flex hose work. Initial leak checks of the crew module were completed and determined to be good. Rudder Speed Brake work continues with seal installations, and panel rigging is in work. On Atlantis' wing leading edge, all Reinforced Carbon-Carbon panels and components have been installed for flight. Left-hand lower Leading Edge Sub System (LESS) panels 1 through 22 have been installed, and left-hand upper LESS panel installation is in work.

Endeavour (OV-105)

Besides, Orbiter Endeavour remains in the Florida Space Authority's Reusable Launch Vehicle hangar at Kennedy Space Center. While in the hangar, Endeavour is undergoing testing to see how orbiters respond to a new radar system that will be used to detect debris during launch. In the OPF, work includes modifications to the bay and platform validation. Endeavour will remain in the hangar for approximately 30 days, then return to the OPF.

Nasa conference on space shuttle and international space station

March 5, 2005

Leaders of the aerospace community will be putting their heads together to discuss the future of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. The Integrated Space Operations Summit (ISOS) will be held on March 29, 30 and 31 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The spaced-out media fraternity (language NOT courtesy Nasa) is invited. Media personnel pls contact Melissa Mathews (202/358-1272) by 4 p.m. EST, March 16.

As a result of the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA has altered its existing Space Shuttle Service Life Extension Program summit to address the new goals. The third gathering of its kind, this year's meeting has been renamed the Integrated Space Operations Summit.

The summit's aim is to ensure existing human spaceflight programs, including the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, remain focused on meeting NASA's exploration goals, and to begin planning for efficient transition of existing space operations resources toward future exploration needs.

Apart from NASA, there will be involvement from the industry, academia, and others with a stake in space operations. Panels have been working for months on specific issues. They will use the summit to discuss findings and make recommendations to NASA leadership.

Returning the Space Shuttle to flight and completing the International Space Station are initial steps in the Vision for Space Exploration program. Using the International Space Station to study endurance in space and new technologies and techniques, NASA readies for the longer journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond.

NASA media accreditation to cover two milestones:

March 3, 2005

NASA has started news media accreditation for two of the most important milestones for the Return to Flight of the Space Shuttle fleet, says a NASA press release.

Media accreditation is under way for the Space Shuttle Discovery's move to the Vehicle Assembly Building; and roll out to Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Both events are planned for later in March. Media without KSC credentials should submit their separate accreditation requests for each event via the new online accreditation Web site at: https://media.ksc.nasa.gov/

Foreign nationals must submit requests no later than two weeks prior to events. Access is granted on a first-requested basis. Accreditation is also underway for Discovery's Return to Flight, targeted for launch on May 15, with a launch window that extends to June 3.

Since dates and times of events are subject to change, updates are available by calling: 321/867-2525.

For the latest information about NASA's Return to Flight efforts on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight

Dancewithshadows.com wishes all the best to NASA for its Return to Flight. Though we may not be able to make it to KSC, we too eagerly await the Discovery launch! To those of you who may be there, we welcome a first-person account from you!

Progress Cargo Craft arrives International space station

March 3, 2005

The Russian robot cargo craft with about 2.3 tons of supplies and equipment aboard docked Wednesday with the International Space Station. The ISS Progress 17 spacecraft docked at 3:10 p.m. EST to the aft port of the Stationís Zvezda Service Module. The docking, controlled by the automated Kurs docking system, was problem-free. The Stationís Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, assisted by Commander Leroy Chiao, was ready to assume manual control of the docking had it been necessary.

Among the spacecraftís 4,631 pounds of cargo are 386 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, and 1,071 pounds of water.

Equipment aboard the new Progress includes cameras and lenses to be used to photograph thermal protection tiles of the Space Shuttle Discovery as the return to flight mission approaches the Station, and a new heat exchanger for the U.S Quest airlock which should allow resumption of U.S. spacewalks from the orbiting laboratory.

Also aboard are 86 containers of food, an additional 160-day supply for the Station. Spare parts for the Russian Elektron oxygen producing system and the Vozdukh carbon-dioxide removal system are among cargo items, as are spare parts and supplies for the Stationís toilet.

Progress 17 lifted off Monday at 2:09 p.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It reached orbit in less than 10 minutes. Moments later, automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.

The Progress 16 cargo ship, which had been at the Station since Christmas Day, was undocked on Sunday, clearing the aft port of Zvezda for the new Progress. Filled with trash and discarded items, Progress 16 will be commanded to deorbit by Russian flight controllers after about 10 days of engineering tests. It will burn up in the Earthís atmosphere soon afterward. by Russian flight controllers after about 10 days of engineering tests. It will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere soon afterward.

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March 3, 2005

Space Shuttle Discovery: External tank mated to rocket boosters

NASA marked a major step in assembling Space Shuttle Discovery for its Return to Flight mission, as workers successfully mated the redesigned External Tank and twin Solid Rocket Boosters. The fuel tank and booster rockets will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery. The External Tank was lifted by a giant crane and joined to the already stacked boosters in the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The external tank is the largest element of the Space Shuttle system, which also includes the orbiter, main engines and rocket boosters. It measures 27.6 feet wide and 154 feet tall. Despite the tank's size, the aluminum skin covering it is only one eighth of an inch thick in most areas. Yet it still withstands more than 6.5 million pounds of thrust during liftoff and ascent. The tank is the only Shuttle component that cannot be reused.

Following integration and final checkout of the tank with the Solid Rocket Boosters, Discovery will join its propulsion components in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Discovery will roll over from the Orbiter Processing Facility later this month, marking the end of Return to Flight processing. The orbiter will be attached to the stack in the Vehicle Assembly Building .

The external tank will fly with several modifications. They include two new forward bipod heaters at the forward attach fittings that connect the tank to the orbiter. NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. spent nearly two years modifying the tank to make it safer. During the tank-booster mating, the left and right boosters are bolted to the tank at both the top and tail ends. At the forward end, a vertical bolt mechanism attaches each booster to the tank.

After the Space Shuttle Discovery launch, approximately two minutes after lift-off, the boosters will separate from the external tank, when pyrotechnic devices fire to break the 25-inch, 62-pound steel bolts. One half of the bolt is caught in canister-like bolt catchers located on the tank; the other half remains with the boosters.

Discovery will be the first flight with a modified bolt catcher. It was upgraded from a two-piece welded design to a one-piece, machine-made design. By eliminating the weld, the new bolt catcher is structurally stronger than the original.

Prior to Discovery joining the stack, final closeouts on the external tank will include attaching the new bolt catcher and electrical cable connections. An aerodynamic fairing and the bi-pod struts, the attach points for the nose of the orbiter to the tank, will also be installed.
 

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Progress on way to International Space Station

February 28, 2005

The unpiloted Russian cargo craft Progress lifted off Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with about 2.3 tons of supplies and equipment for the International Space Station and its Expedition 10 crew. The ISS Progress 17 launched on time at 2:09 p.m. EST. It reached the orbit in less than 10 minutes. Moments later, automatic commands deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas.

Engine firings are scheduled later Monday to adjust the Progress' orbit for an automated docking March 2 at 3:15 p.m. EST to the aft port of the Station's Zvezda Service Module. Among the spacecraft's 4,631 pounds of cargo are 386 pounds of propellant, 242 pounds of oxygen and air, and 1,071 pounds of water.

The Progress 16 cargo ship, which had been at the Station since Christmas Day, was undocked on Sunday, clearing the aft port of Zvezda for the new Progress. Filled with trash and discarded items, Progress 16 will be commanded to deorbit by Russian flight controllers after about 10 days of engineering tests. It will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere soon afterward.

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Space Shuttle Processing Status Report: S05-008

February 28, 2005

The Space Shuttle fleet is housed and processed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. Mission: STS-114. 17th Flight to the International Space Station. (LF1) - Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103). Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3. Launch Date: Launch Planning Window May 15 - June 3, 2005. Launch Pad: 39B. Crew: Collins, Kelly, Noguchi, Robinson, Thomas, Lawrence and Camarda. Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles.

In Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3, the orbiter system testing is 96% complete on Discovery for its mission, designated STS-114, to the International Space Station. Final work and closeouts are progressing well in preparation for Space Shuttle Discovery's roll over to the Vehicle Assembly Building next month. The Space Shuttle Discovery launch is likely in Mid-May. The tentative launch date is May 17.

The payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed today for installation of a few remaining door-hinge carrier panels. The payload bay doors will then be opened to verify correct placement of the carrier panels. When completed, the payload bay doors will be closed for the final time for space flight. Work continues on seal installation on the main and nose landing-gear doors; then followed by functional tests to ensure the proper compression of the doors.

In the Vehicle Assembly Building, paint and cork repairs are complete on the Solid Rocket Boosters' (SRBs) aft inactive stub ring, an attach ring surrounding the booster located about 10 feet below the External Tank (ET) attach point. The ET is scheduled to be moved from the checkout cell to the integration cell and mated to the twin SRBs on Monday.

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On board the International Space Station

February 25, 2005,

The crew of the International Space Station are resting ahead of the arrival of a new cargo spacecraft and helping achieve a milestone in station robotics operations. Expedition 10 Commander and NASA Station Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov spent part of the week packing the Russian Progress supply spacecraft with trash to be junked. They have closed the hatch between Progress and the Zvezda Service Module in advance of the ship's undocking. The unpiloted spacecraft will be undocked Sunday at 11:06 a.m. EST. A pair of engine firings will place the vehicle in an orbit a safe distance away from the Station to allow Russian flight controllers to conduct engineering tests before it is commanded to reenter the Earth's atmosphere on March 9 and burn up.

The next Progress to be sent to the Station will be moved to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for its liftoff, planned for Monday at 2:09 p.m. EST. Docking is scheduled on Wednesday, March 2, at 3:15 p.m. EST. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the docking beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST. This will be the 17th Progress to dock with the Station.

The new Progress is loaded with more than two tons of supplies and food, including spare parts, equipment, experiment hardware and life-support system gear, propellent, oxygen and air and water. 86 food containers are also loaded into the Progress, good for more than 160 days of additional provisions above what is on board the International Space Station.

New heat-exchanger devices for the cooling spacesuits in the Quest Airlock are also part of the luggage. It will replace a heat exchanger that introduced rust in the suits last year, canceling Station spacewalks. Progress also brings digital cameras that the crew can use to shoot the tiles of Space Shuttle Discovery during its approach to the Station. This will assist mission managers determine whether Discovery's thermal protection system is intact and able to support a safe return to Earth.

Engineers have successfully completed a test of new software loaded into the Canadarm2 robotic arm last month to allow remote control operation of the space crane from Mission Control, rather than by the crew on board.

 

CONTENT COURTESY NASA

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