Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Live At KSC: NASA Preps Shuttle For Fuel-Loading

LIVE IMAGES: The images above are from live video feeds in the Launch Complex 39 area at Kennedy Space Center. They will automatically refresh to the most up-to-the-minute image every 30 seconds.

NASA is preparing shuttle Discovery for critical fuel-loading operations at Kennedy Space Center today while program managers stage a preliminary readiness review for a targeted Aug. 25 launch.

Preps work in fact is going so well that NASA might be able to move up the target launch date to Aug. 24 when an executive-level flight readiness review is held next week.

Discovery and seven astronauts are tentatively slated to blast off at 1:36 a.m. Aug. 25 on a mission to haul more than 30,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. It will be NASA's 128th shuttle mission, the 37th flight of Discovery and the first of seven remaining before shuttle fleet retirement.

NASA and contractor engineers are preparing to load toxic rocket propellant into Discovery's Auxiliary Power Units as well as its Orbital Maneuvering System and its Reaction Control System. The Hydraulic Power Units on the shuttle's two solid rocket boosters -- one of which was repaired over the past weekend -- also will be fueled for flight.

Call-to-stations for the operations will be at 10 p.m. tonight.

A host of other prelaunch processing activity also is in work, including:

++A helium signature leak test. The test calls for gaseous helium to be routed through the shuttle's main propulsion system and its three main engines in a search for leaks.

++A functional test of the spacesuits that will be hauled up on Discovery. Three spacewalks are planned during Discovery's 13-day flight.

A wave of tankers also are headed to launch pad 39A to replenish the liquid oxygen storage tank there.

NASA is pressing ahead with launch preps while engineers analyze a potential external tank foam problem that could prompt the agency to roll Discovery back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs.

During NASA's past two shuttle launches, significant amounts of foam insulation shed from one of 34 metal brackets that hold pressurization lines and electrical cabling on the outside of the 15-story tank.

High-tech x-ray tests have shown no significant problems with the suspect ice frost ramp on Discovery's tank, but engineers want to make certain it is safe to fly the shuttle as is. Any repair work would have to be done in the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Engineers will brief managers on a probabilistic risk assessment during the preliminary flight readiness review, which is taking place today and Wednesday. Managers are expected to determine a course of action by the end of the week.

The executive-level flight readiness review for the mission -- designated STS-128 -- will be held next Tuesday here at KSC. A firm launch date will be selected at that time.


sure said...

also next tuesday, according to what has been posted before, they will decide if they need to roll it back. if they decide they need to roll it back, about 100% of the prep is a waste of time. I'm thinking about buying a big box of big red noses and some clown makeup to send out to the space center in the event they roll back after all the preps.

Anonymous said...

Hey Todd, your comments on SURE said? This certainly is not the time to be making frivolous decisions.

Anonymous said...

I think you forgot about the oxidizer in your headline there Todd. OMS engines don't do anything with just fuel. A more accurate headline would have been "NASA Preps Shuttle for Propellant Loading". That covers both fuel and oxidizer.

Anonymous said...

Yup...Ares 1 is dead in the pad as we speak.

Note that several of Committe panel members are working and/or
with companies that may benefit from the "outsourcing" of the Ares 1 role. :)

Namely...the CEO of The Aerospace Corp, CEO of XCOR Aerospace, a former Manager of the Boeing Space Shuttle and Sea Launch programs, and a retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt say Ares I is dead yet. Option 3b is still on the table, and that includes Ares I.

Vicky said...

NASA is planning the new rocket sent to the galaxy so they can increase there knowledge and find a life on any planet.They have to make some kind of container who can carry lot of fuel and they have lower in weight.