Monday, July 27, 2009

Live At KSC: Shuttle Stacking Under Way In VAB

The orbiter Discovery is being mated to an external tank equipped with twin solid rocket boosters today as NASA presses ahead with plans to launch its next mission to the International Space Station.

Discovery and seven astronauts are tentatively scheduled to blast off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 25. NASA plans to roll the fully assembled shuttle out to the pad on Aug. 5.

Crane operators with United Space Alliance lifted the orbiter to the vertical position after Discovery rolled into the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building on Sunday. The spaceship was hoisted up and over the 16th-floor transom and then lowered onto a mobile launcher platform in High bay No. 1 of the building Sunday night.

The mating operation began today and is expected to be complete late this evening.

Discovery was moved to the 52-story assembly building after a series of tests aimed at determining whether its external tank might shed foam insulation during its upcoming launch into orbit.

An unusual amount of foam peeled off the intertank area of the tank that was used to launch Endeavour on July 15. Engineers and technicians performed more than 100 tests on the foam in that area of Discovery's tank and found no significant problems. In all but one test the foam adhered to a substrate primer on the aluminum-lithium skin of the tank as expected.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge and save the NASA image of technicians watching crane operators lift Discovery into the vertical position in the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building on Sunday. Discovery will carry the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module up to the International Space Station so astronauts can deliver life support racks and science racks to the outpost. A Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier also will be hauled up to the station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.

No comments: