View Full Version : STS-121 update(s)?

2006-Jan-27, 11:36 PM
Just out of curiosity, has anyone seen/heard anything about the progress on resolving the foam-shedding issue? I see they're assembling the SRBs (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html) and still hoping for a May launch. Here's (http://www.floridatoday.com/floridatoday/blogs/spaceteam/2006/01/new-processing-schedule-for-discovery.html) the most recent report I've seen, just wondering if there's anything else floating around I may have missed.

2006-Jan-29, 07:16 PM
Here's some additional detail about what's going on at Michoud. (http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/Archive/2005/Oct/17-688421.html)

It's from October, but it appears they're still haveing the same porblems as of this month. Some parts of the report are a bit disturbing.

Like the part where the team will be doing NDE on the foam rather than subjecting it to DT (except for wind tunnel testing). NDE's fine if you have a large reference database generated by DT that verifies NDE conclusions, but without it, a lot of assumptions and speculation come into play. I would imagine that NDE was used on the last tank, and we know what happened there. Since Michoud has an extra tank to run tests on, DT should be used, even if only in local areas where the foam adhesion is most suspect.

Then there's the idea of eliminating foam from large parts of the ET. The problem here is you now have long, large transition areas from foam to non-foam surfaces. Such transitions almost always aggravate existing adhesion problems and often produce new ones.

Finally there's the general attitude once again. Prior to the Discovery launch last July NASA and Michoud managers proclaimed the foam problem fixed. (http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=January&x=20050107113204lcnirellep0.341148&t=xarchives/xarchitem.html)

Now we have Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale saying, “The goal is to continue the investigation with the intention of potentially eliminating the PAL ramp in the future. It’s going to take us a couple of flights and about a year’s worth of wind tunnel testing to come to a conclusion as to whether or not we can do that.” He also said, “What we’re all here to report is a great deal of progress and a sense of optimism that we do have an understanding of the work that lies ahead of us, otherwise we wouldn’t even be talking about a tentative kind of schedule at this time.”

So two flights will be test flights to see if they've got a fix, and the wind tunnel testing planned will take over a year. But they are still working toward a May launch. I get less than a warm fuzzy from those remarks.

Let's see, STS-1 had two astronauts on Columbia for that test flight. Since the next two missions will also be test flights, I don't see how NASA could justify putting more than two astronauts on each, since they are, per the above statements, testing out unproven fixes to a potentially catastrophic problem.


2006-Jan-30, 11:03 PM
So two flights will be test flights to see if they've got a fix, and the wind tunnel testing planned will take over a year. But they are still working toward a May launch. I get less than a warm fuzzy from those remarks.

Same here. The lack of recent (indepth) updates save for the PAL ramp issue doesn't instill me with a great deal of optimism.

2006-Feb-01, 08:05 PM
Parsing shuttle launch dates (http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2006/01/parsing_shuttle.html)

One of the great riddles of recent months is: When will the space shuttle launch again? As usual, the short answer is: Nobody knows. The longer answer hinges largely on when two external fuel tanks, designated ET-119 and ET-118, are delivered to the Cape. ET-119 will be used to launch the next mission aboard Discovery, which is tentatively scheduled for May 3-22. If all goes well with Discovery, Atlantis will use ET-118 for the flight after that, now targeted for July 1-19. Atlantis also has to be ready to fly a timely rescue mission if Discovery runs into trouble.

2006-Feb-02, 07:42 AM
Thanks! Just what I was looking for.

2006-Feb-15, 05:49 PM
Media Accreditation Now Under Way for Mission STS-121 (http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=19008)

Space Shuttle Discovery is presently scheduled for launch between May 3 and 22, 2006 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

2006-Feb-15, 09:19 PM
Media Accreditation Now Under Way for Mission STS-121 (http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=19008)
I was so worried that we wouldn't launch because we didn't have enough of the press corp there. Now all we need is a working rocket system.

Launch window
2006-Feb-26, 11:23 PM
NASA Ships External Fuel Tank for Next Space Shuttle Mission
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, workers at the nearby NASA Michoud Assembly Facility persevered through their own personal hardships to deliver a newly designed external fuel tank for the space shuttle.

As a result, the tank that will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its next mission will head to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., this weekend. The exact time of departure will be determined by real-time operational conditions.

The huge orange tank designated ET-119, will be loaded on a covered barge today at Michoud for shipment Saturday. The barge is expected to take five to six days to travel from the Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico Outlet to Florida's Banana River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

2006-Feb-27, 04:30 PM
That's a big milestone.

2006-Feb-28, 12:36 PM
They should just go back to freon. A couple of measly Space Shuttle launches a year won't kill the ozone layer.

2006-Mar-01, 12:13 AM
CNN (AP): 16 chunks of foam fell off Discovery (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/02/28/space.shuttle.ap/index.html)

NASA says 16 pieces of foam insulation broke off the fuel tank of the space shuttle Discovery during its launch last July, offering many chances for harming the spacecraft in the same way Columbia was doomed three years ago.

It's the first time the space agency has put a number on the pieces of foam that snapped off during liftoff last year in the first flight since the Columbia disaster.

CNN: NASA aiming for May launch window (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/02/28/space.shuttle/)

While none of the debris appeared to damage the orbiter, the unresolved debris issue added more uncertainty about the aging shuttle fleet's future.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin ordered that engineers fix the problem before another shuttle flight.

A piece of foam that damaged the shuttle Columbia's wing doomed that spacecraft, and led to the deaths of seven astronauts on its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003.

"Just to make it perfectly clear to you, foam will still come off the tank after we have done all these mitigation efforts," Hale said. "What we have done is worked off all large pieces. We believe the pieces that come off will be small, definitely smaller than a matchbox.

2006-Mar-01, 05:00 PM
3 shuttle flights planned for '06 if safety fears calmed (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/custom/space/orl-shuttle0106mar01,0,4713087.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-space)

NASA plans to launch three space-shuttle flights in 2006 if engineers can solve the ongoing problem of dangerous debris falling from the ship's external fuel tank during liftoff.

Shuttle managers plan to meet Thursday to discuss target launch dates of May 10, Aug. 28 and Nov. 16. Before the first mission flies, however, they must convince themselves that six changes made to the 15-story tank since Discovery's liftoff last July are safe.

2006-Mar-02, 05:56 PM
Discovery's fuel tank arrives

Delivery keeps launch on schedule (http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060302/NEWS02/603020348/1007/rss06)

A shuttle fuel tank rode its barge into Kennedy Space Center under a blue sky and rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building under the sliver of a moon Wednesday night.

Its next journey will be to the launch pad and then to space during a launch as soon as May 10, if NASA has its way.

There is no extra time built into the schedule. The team is excited and confident, launch director Mike Leinbach said during a Tuesday briefing.

However, "if we run into a big gotcha, we don't have much time to resolve it," he said.

Launch window
2006-Mar-02, 08:00 PM
3 shuttle flights planned for '06 if safety fears calmed (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/custom/space/orl-shuttle0106mar01,0,4713087.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-space)

good, it seems things are going right again - let's hope Shuttle can return to finish its mission without anymore problems

2006-Mar-08, 11:30 AM
apparently this problem last cropped up again...


Launch window
2006-Mar-09, 08:44 PM
NASA assesses unexpected reading from fuel tank sensor
Shuttle engineers are studying what, if anything, to do about an unexpected reading from one of four liquid hydrogen main engine cutoff - ECO - sensors in Discovery's external fuel tank, officials said today. The sensors play a critical role during the climb to space by ensuring a shuttle's main engines shut down normally before draining the ship's external tank. A malfunction could trigger an early engine shutdown or let the powerplants run too long.

2006-Mar-12, 12:57 AM
I don't think things are looking good for a launch in less than two months.