Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NASA presses ahead with Feb. 7 launch plan

NASA is confident a set of redesigned coolant hoses can be readied in time for Endeavour to launch to the International Space Station as planned on Feb. 7.

Concerns about possible mission delays arose last week after a set of hoses failed pre-flight tests conducted by a California supplier. A protective metal braid around the hoses began coming loose at pressures below the required level.

The four 14-foot hoses are to be connected during a spacewalk to the station's new Tranquility module, which Endeavour is hauling into orbit.

During a meeting Tuesday, station program manager Mike Suffredini decided to rely on a new set of hoses that will be assembled from smaller sections already approved for use on the station, according to a spokesman at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Meanwhile, the vendor is working on a redesign of the original set that could be used as backups.

"They've been working on a beefed up version of the hoses, adding a second braid around the hoses, beefing up the weld and the connector that the metal braid is connected to," Pete Hasbrook, NASA's Expedition 22 increment manager, said during a media briefing Monday.

Suffredini halted planning for a partial activation of the module, which was an option if the hoses could not be prepared in time for the mission.

Tranquility is the last major living space to be added to the outpost orbiting about 200 miles above Earth. It will house life support systems and a treadmill.

Those systems require power and will generate heat that must be dissipated through the station's ammonia cooling system, so they couldn't be fully activated without the hoses connected.

The new hoses are due to be delivered to Kennedy Space Center less than a week before the launch, so any new problems could still affect the mission.

Endeavour's 13-day mission is the first of five planned this year before NASA completes assembly of the space station and retires the shuttle fleet.

IMAGE NOTE: In the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center today, operations are under way to place the International Space Station's Node 3, named Tranquility, into a payload transportation canister for its move to Launch Pad 39A. Here, Tranquility is moved toward the open doors of the canister. The primary payload for the space shuttle Endeavour's STS-130 mission, Tranquility is a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the space station's life support systems. Attached to one end of Tranquility is a cupola, a unique work area with six windows on its sides and one on top. The module was built in Turin, Italy, by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller.

1 comment:

Walt Disney World said...

Hope Endeavour's flight is on scheduled