STS-134: Launch slips to NET May 8 as APU troubleshooting finds LCA fault
May 1st, 2011 by Chris BerginEndeavour’s critical – and final – mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed until at least May 8, following an engineering evaluation into her Auxiliary Power Unit 1 (APU-1), which suffered from a heater problem, breaking Launch Commit Criteria rules. The investigation found the root cause relates to a hybrid driver inside the (Load Control Assembly), requiring the lengthy process of removing and replacing the box.
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1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT)
We've posted a YouTube video showing technicians working inside shuttle Endeavour's cramped aft compartment this morning.
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Endeavour's astronauts will be getting back into the Houston simulators for some refresher training before they return to Kennedy Space Center later this week.
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The launch team are breaking out of the countdown sequence and will be starting all over again three days before next liftoff attempt.
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The old Aft Load Control Assembly No. 2 box will come out of Endeavour tomorrow and be sent to the malfunction laboratory for study. The new box gets installed on Tuesday. The system retesting then takes two full days, shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach says.
With your free time you can view some of NASA's HD videos.
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The NASA TV web page has a UStream viewing connection, which worked well for me.
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The Press update on the repair schedule was viewing as I wrote this with 600 viewers on-line.
A variety of vehicles, launch sites on both U.S. coasts, shifting dates and times... the NASA Launch Schedule is easy to decipher by checking out our Launch Schedule 101 that explains how it all works!
Updated -- May 1, 2011 - 2:30 p.m. EDT
Date: May 8* Mission: STS-134 Launch Vehicle:Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A STS-134 Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station.
Date: June 9 * Mission: Aquarius Launch Vehicle:United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320 Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base - SLC 2 Launch Time: 7:20:13 - 7:25:13 a.m. PDT / 10:20:13 - 10:25:13 a.m. EDT Description: The Aquarius mission will measure ocean surface salinity to understand the links between ocean circulation, global water cycle and climate.
Date: June 28 + Mission: STS-135 Launch Vehicle:Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A Launch Time: 3:40 p.m. EDT Description: Space shuttle Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. Atlantis also will fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and return a failed ammonia pump module.
Changes in the design of the main payload, AMS-02, as well as delays to STS-133 have led to delays in the mission. May 2, 2011 is the current target launch date. The first launch attempt on Friday April 29 was scrubbed at 12:20pm by launch managers due to problems with the shuttle's auxiliary power units (APU). Preliminary plans are in place to attempt launch again no sooner than 3 days later. The Launch On Need mission, a contingency mission to rescue a stranded STS-134 crew, would be the STS-335 flight, flown by Atlantis.
Kelly's wife, Gabrielle Giffords, is in Florida to view the launch. This is her first trip since moving from Tucson to Houston in January after an attempted assassination. Giffords' appearance at Kennedy Space Center is giving the launch a high profile, "one of the most anticipated in years," according to the New York Times. President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center on April 29, 2011; despite Friday's scrubbed launch attempt, Obama visited the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Space Center, and also met with Giffords.
STS-135 is the last planned Space Shuttle mission. It is planned to use the hardware officially being processed for the STS-335 contingency mission, provided that the Launch On Need (LON) rescue mission, designated to support STS-134, is not needed.
While the mission has been authorized, it has no appropriation in the NASA budget, raising questions about whether the mission will fly at all. On 20 January 2011, program managers changed STS-335 to STS-135 on the flight manifest. This allows for training and other mission specific preparations. As of 13 February 2011 managers have told their workforce that STS-135 will fly “regardless” of what happens with the funding situation via the Continuing Resolution. Until this point, there had been no official references to STS-135 mission in NASA official documentation for the general public.
During an address at the Marshall Space Flight Center on 16 November 2010, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that the agency needs to fly STS-135 to the station in 2011 because development of commercial rockets and spacecraft designed to transport cargo to the ISS is likely to be delayed. "We are hoping to fly a third shuttle mission [in addition to STS-133 and STS-134] in June , what everybody calls the launch-on-need mission ... and that's really needed to [buy down] the risk for the development time for commercial cargo," Bolden said.
Space ShuttleAtlantis is to fly the 12-day mission; For this mission, Atlantis would carry the STS-335 four-person crew (the smallest of any shuttle mission since April 1983 on STS-6) and the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC). The mission is included in NASA's 2011 authorization, signed into law on 11 October 2010, but funding is dependent on a subsequent appropriation bill. United Space Alliance signed a contract extension for this mission, along with STS-134; the contract contains 6 one month options with NASA in order to support continuing operations. All STS-135 crew members have been custom fitted for a Russian Sokol pressure suit and molded Soyuz seat liner should they be forced to return to Earth via Soyuz capsule in the event that the shuttle is unable make the reentry and land.
The U.S. government budget approved in mid-April 2011 calls for $5.5 billion for NASA's space operations division, which includes the space shuttle and space station programs. According to NASA, the budget which runs through 30 September 2011 ended all concerns about funding the STS-135 mission.