Monday, June 27, 2011

Tests Put Atlantis On Track For July 8 Launch

NASA and contractor engineers successfully performed main engine tests on Atlantis over the weekend, putting the winged spaceship back on course for the planned July 8 launch of the nation's 135th and final shuttle mission.

The frequency response test and the helium signature leak test both were performed to make certain a spare fuel valve on Atlantis' No. 3 engine will work properly during flight. The spare was installed to replace a valve that leaked during a June 15 external tank propellant-loading test.

The so-called tanking test was performed to verify the integrity of structural braces on the ribbed center section of the shuttle's 15-story external tank. No cracks or other problems were detected during a weekend review of data from x-ray inspections of the metal alloy braces. The braces were manufactured with an alloy batch that proved susceptible to cracking.

The engine tests cleared the way for technicians at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A to start closing out the shuttle's aft compartment. Final ordnance operations will get under way tonight as technicians rig up small explosive devices that will be used to separate the shuttle from its mobile launcher platform, solid rocket boosters and external tank in flight.

Atlantis commander Chris Ferguson and his crew -- which includes pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim -- will be taking part in a reentry simulation at Johnson Space Center today.

Shuttle program managers will meet at KSC on Tuesday for the STS-135 Flight Readiness Review. The targeted July 8 launch date is expected to be firmed at the conclusion of that review.

1 comment:

Mark Lopa said...

It's really happening, isn't it?