Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Atlantis Undergoes Post-Flight Servicing

Five days after finishing NASA's 135th and final shuttle flight, the orbiter Atlantis is undergoing post-flight servicing in its processing hangar at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA contractor technicians drained the orbiter's power-producing fuel cell system this week. The Power Reactant Storage & Distribution (PRSD) system combined liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to generate electricity to run spaceship systems. The chemical reactants generate water as a byproduct.

Technicians today are preparing to open the shuttle's payload bay so that the cylindrical Raffaello module can be removed. The module is filled with surplus gear and trash from the International Space Station to clear up storage space on the outpost. Rigid steel frames called strongbacks have to be put in place to open the doors.

Coming up later this week: Technicians will start post-flight servicing of the shuttle's Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control System. The OMS features twin engines that were ignited to drop Atlantis out of orbiter for its era-ending atmospheric reentry last Thursday. The Reaction Control System features 44 nose-and-tail steering thrusters.

Atlantis is be prepped for display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image of the orbiter Atlantis being towed into Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2 at Kennedy Space Center. You can click the enlarged version for an even bigger, more detailed view. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.

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