Endeavour is ready for another ride

June 12, 2009 13:24 by scibuff

If everything goes according to plan, the Space Shuttle Endeavour will take off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida tomorrow at 11:17:15 UTC on its 23rd mission – the 10th to the International Space Station (ISS). Seven crew members of STS-127 commanded by NASA veteran Mark Polansky (STS-98, STS-116) will stay in space for 15 Days 16 Hours and 59 Minutes and land at the KSC at 16:16 UTC on June 29. Mission specialists Dave Wolf, Chris Cassidy, Tom Mashburn and Tim Kopra will combine for 31 hours and 45 minutes during 5 planed spacewalks (EVA).

The crew of STS-127 - Source: NASA

The crew of STS-127 - Source: NASA

Julie Payette (STS-96) will return to the ISS after 10 years as a mission specialist operating the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) aka Canadarm (Canadarm 1) and the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), better known by its primary component Canadarm2. In a meeting of generations, Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk (55) of Expedition 20, a member of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) committee which selected her from a pool of 5,330 applicants, will be the first two Canadian astronaut in space at the same time.

Patch commemorating Julie Payette's participation in STS-127 to the ISS. The patch features an image of the Earth taken from space with a robotic arm that spells out the astronaut's name in electronic circuitry - Source: NASASpaceFlight.com

Patch commemorating Julie Payette's participation in STS-127 to the ISS. The patch features an image of the Earth taken from space with a robotic arm that spells out the astronaut's name in electronic circuitry - Source: NASASpaceFlight.com

STS-127 will be the first spaceflight for the shuttle pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn and Tim Kopra. Mission specialist Dave Wolf has never flown the shuttle but has spent 128 says aboard the Russian space station MIR. Koichi Wakata (STS-119) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will return to Earth and Tim Kopra will join the crew of Expedition 20 as a flight engineer where he will remain until August when Nicole Stott of STS-128 will take his place.

Pressurized Module of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) "Kibo" seen at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan - Source: NASDA

Pressurized Module of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) "Kibo" seen at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan - Source: NASDA

The mission will deliver to the station 2 modules of the Japanese Kibo (means “hope”) complex where science experiments will be exposed to the extreme environment of space. The rest of the payload consists of the ICC-VLD to provide heater power and electrical connections for the Orbital Replacement Units (ORU’s), the Atmosphere Neutral Density Experiment’s (ANDE) two microsatellites to gather data on the density and the composition of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) atmosphere and finally, the Dual RF Astrodynamic GPS Orbital Navigator Satellite (DRAGONSat) to collect GPS data on autonomous spacecraft rendezvous and docking capabilities. The Shuttle carries also a resupply of water, food and oxygen for the station.

One of the STS-127 Detailed Test Objectives (DTO’s) is to perform a series of tests to investigate the DragonEye laser navigation sensor, SpaceX’s Dragon vehicles will use on approach to the ISS. NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO) – yes, it really is C3PO – is financing the experiment for SpaceX, a space transportation startup company, in NASA’s effort to stimulate a commercial market for spaceflight services. The SpaceX Dragon should be capable of carrying seven people or a smaller crew with cargo to the ISS.

Today, at 18:52 UTC, the countdown will resume at T-11 after a built-in 13 hours and 52 minutes hold. At 01:52 UTC on Saturday, the external fuel tank will be loaded with 2.2  million liters of liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer. At 07:27 UTC the crew will depart KSC Operations and Checkout Building and board the Astrovan to take them to the launch pad 39A a few minutes away. During the last built-in hold at T-9 minutes, the Launch Director Bryan Lunney, Mission Management Team and NASA Test Director Steve Payne will conduct the final “go/no go” polls for the launch.

Mission’s commander Mark Polansky will be the sending updates to his Twitter account via shuttle-NASA emails. 24/7 coverage of the STS-127 mission will be available on NASA TV. You can also follow the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the ISS in real time through NASA’s real time tracking. Information about out about visible ISS passes at your location is available from heavens-above.

ISS Ground track - Source: Heavens-Above.com

ISS Ground track - Source: Heavens-Above.com

The next mission to the ISS will be STS-128, the 33rd construction flight, planned to launch on August 7 at 13:07 UTC. Shuttle Discovery will carry a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier and the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (Leonardo) whose main purpose is to assist with establishing a six-man crew capacity by providing extra supplies and equipment to the station.

Endeavour next flight is scheduled for February 4, 2010. The STS-130 mission (assembly flight 20A) will deliver the Tranquility Node 3 and the Cupola Module to the station. The shuttle’s last visit to space is planned for July 29, 2010. During STS-133 (assembly flight ULF5) the ISS will be extended with the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) and Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).

Atlantis Landed

May 24, 2009 15:51 by scibuff

UPDATE 2: Atlantis landing HD photos now available on NASA website.

Atlantis and the crew of the STS-125 mission landed safely in California at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the Hubble Servicing Mission - Source: NASA/Carla Thomas

Atlantis and the crew of the STS-125 mission landed safely in California at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the Hubble Servicing Mission - Source: NASA/Carla Thomas

UPDATE 1: The landing video from NASA TV is now available on NASA TV on-demand page.

Today at 15:39:05 UTC, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on Runway 22 at the Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, ending a 13-day mission – the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). During the five spacewalks (EVA’s) the crew installed new instruments and thermal blankets, repaired two existing instruments, refurbished subsystems and replaced gyroscopes, batteries and a unit that stores and transmits science data to Earth, extending HST’s operational lifespan through at least 2014.

In the following days that space shuttle will be ferried back to Florida aboard a shuttle carrier aircraft, which is a modified Boeing 747. Atlantis is scheduled to go the ISS two more times before the shuttle program ends in 2010. The STS-129 will deliver the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 and 2 to the station in November 2009 and the STS-132 will bring the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) and the Mini Research Module (MRM1) in May 2010.

About 2 hours before the 2nd and 3rd landing opportunities (one in California and one in Florida during the orbit #197) NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson took off in the Shuttle Training Aircraft from Edwards in California to evaluate weather conditions for a possible landing at the Edwards Air Force Base. The plane is equipped with the same instruments as the space shuttle and the computers on board can adjust the plane’s maneuverability to mimic that of the space shuttle during landing.

Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft to assess conditions for landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California - Source: NASA TV

Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft to assess conditions for landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California - Source: NASA TV

Entry Team discussing landing opportunities during orbit #197

Entry Team led by Norman Knight discussing landing opportunities during orbit #197 - Source: NASA TV

At 14:03 UTC the Mission Control waved off the opportunity for landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral in Florida due to poor weather. The entry team worked extremely hard to bring Atlantis to KSC, but the weather was too dynamic in Florida to make a call an hour and half before landing. At 14:09 UTC Atlantis got a “go” for the de-orbit burn to land at the Edwards AFB in California. Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft reported pristine weather conditions throughout the area, i.e. “a beautiful day in the desert”.

STS-125 ground track for landing at Edwards AFB in California - Source: NASA TV

STS-125 ground track for landing at Edwards AFB in California - Source: NASA TV

The crew executed the de-orbit burn at 15:24:41 UTC lasting 2 minutes and 36 seconds slowing the orbiter down by about 0.14 km/sand changing its orbit from 566km by 302km to 566km by 48km. The “no action” glitch on the auxiliary power unit (APU) #2 caused by elevated pressure in the drain line but was of no concern for the landing. In the next few minutes the shuttle was rotated nose forward for the entry sequence.

At the entry phase of flight which begins approximately five minutes before entry interface (EI), the orbiter was at an altitude of about 170km traveling at 7.7km/s. The EI started at an altitude of 121.6 km when Atlantis was in the range of 7,869 km the landing site.

Veteran astronaut Scott Altman flew the orbiter on manual control for the past 10 minutes. He executed a wide and sweeping 200-degree left-overhead over the Mojave Desert to position the shuttle on the north-east to south-west approach to land Runway 22.

Atlantis from the long range camera at Edwards - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis from the long range camera at Edwards - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis in a wide 200-degrees left U-turn - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis in a wide 200-degrees left U-turn - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis 1000m above the ground - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis 1000m above the ground - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis landing gear's out - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis landing gear's out - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis rear gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis nose gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis nose gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

The next space shuttle mission STS-127 is the 32nd construction flight of the International Space Station (ISS) and the final of a series of three flights dedicated to the assembly of the Japanese Kibo laboratory complex. The facility will provide a type of “front porch” for experiments in the exposed environment, and a robotic arm that will be attached to the Kibo Pressurized Module and used to position experiments outside the station. The 29th shuttle mission to the ISS will last about 16 days and includes five spacewalks (EVAs). The space shuttle Endeavour is targeted to launch at 11:17 UTC on June 13, 2009 from launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on its 23rd mission to the station.

Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-127 crew portrait - Source: NASA

Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-127 crew portrait - Source: NASA

STS-127 is a bit special for me as a Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette, to whom I had the privilege to talk as she visited my high school, United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy, will be aboard Endeavour as a mission specialist for her second visit to the ISS.