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  STS-125: Atlantis' 747 ferry flight back to Florida

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Author Topic:   STS-125: Atlantis' 747 ferry flight back to Florida
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-27-2009 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dryden Flight Research Center update
Shuttle Atlantis De-servicing Operations Now Under Way

Post-mission servicing and ferry flight preparations on the Space Shuttle Atlantis got under way in earnest Tuesday at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, following Atlantis' landing Sunday morning at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.

After completion of jacking and leveling operations in the Mate-Demate Device, the large gantry-like structure used to conduct post-flight servicing and mounting of the shuttle atop its carrier aircraft, United Space Alliance technicians completed drying of the main engine compartment. They also continued inspections of Atlantis' thermal protection tiles and blankets and completed installation of covers over the shuttle's windows.

On Thursday, technicians will don self-contained atmospheric protection ensemble or SCAPE suits in order to drain various toxic fluids from Atlantis' systems that could prove hazardous to unprotected personnel. Installation of the fittings for attachment of the tail cone used to improve the shuttle's aerodynamics during the ferry flight is also on the overnight schedule.

Post-mission processing managers are targeting lift operations to mount Atlantis on the modified 747 carrier aircraft on Saturday, and following a Flight Readiness Review the same day, are looking toward ferry flight departure just before sunrise Sunday morning at the earliest.

Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base last Sunday after being diverted from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida due to poor weather conditions there. Atlantis' landing at Edwards was the 53rd shuttle landing to occur at Edwards.


Photo credit: NASA/Jim Ross

Kevmac
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posted 05-27-2009 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevmac   Click Here to Email Kevmac     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do they ever release the flight route for the 747/Orbiter before the trip? I believe that they sometimes fly-by towns and cities and have a couple places where they may overnight during the trip. It would be fun to see the plane if we knew where and when to look.

webhamster
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posted 05-27-2009 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster   Click Here to Email webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of my favourite pictures is the one from the Wikipedia article about the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft showing the mount points. I love the note they put on there...

Apropos as a refresher for any Dryden techs who may pop by in the next few days...

Voyager1975
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posted 05-27-2009 09:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voyager1975   Click Here to Email Voyager1975     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh man I love that picture! That's great!

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-28-2009 12:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought that picture of the attachment point was familiar, it was taken by a co-worker of mine at the Edwards Air Show a few years back... too funny. It sure is a small world after all. I can't wait for work tomorrow.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 05-28-2009 02:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That wouldn't work for me - remember, Columbia had black wing chines.

"Hey, Hart, watcha doin' in the cockpit?"

"Trying to find the release for the payload bay doors."

"What for?"

"The instructions say to mount the Orbiter black side down. I see two black things on Columbia's wings, so I want the payload bay doors open so we can connect the SCA to the payload attachment points... How the heck do you turn the Shuttle upside down anyways?"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-29-2009 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dryden Flight Research Center update
Atlantis Fluid Draining in Progress; Ferry Flight May Occur Sunday

Post-mission servicing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and preparations for its ferry flight are progressing well at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, and shuttle managers are hopeful that Atlantis will be ready to ferry late Saturday evening. As of Thursday morning, the ferry flight itself would depart Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California no earlier than about sunrise on Sunday, May 31.

(Edwards, a restricted access military base, will not be open to the public for viewing of the shuttle's ferry flight departure. However, there are several off-base locations where the 747-shuttle combo may be visible after takeoff.)

Technicians in self-contained atmospheric protection ensemble or SCAPE suits are on schedule Thursday as they drain various toxic fluids from Atlantis' systems that could prove hazardous to unprotected personnel Thursday. Installation of the tail cone used to improve the shuttle's aerodynamics during the ferry flight is scheduled for no earlier than late Friday.

Shuttle processing managers are targeting lift operations to mount Atlantis on the modified 747 carrier aircraft to begin at mid-day Saturday. A Flight Readiness Review is scheduled for mid-day Saturday, at which time managers will decide when the ferry flight will occur.

Inspectors noted some damage on both the interior and exterior of Atlantis' right Orbital Maneuvering Engine nozzle that was apparently caused by a micrometeoroid strike while Atlantis was in orbit. Shuttle engineering is reviewing the issue to determine if the nozzle will need to be repaired or replaced.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-29-2009 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis Set to Return to Florida

After landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 24 following the successful Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, space shuttle Atlantis is about to start its cross-country journey back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mounted on a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, Atlantis is expected to begin its journey from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., to Kennedy as early as Sunday, May 31. The exact date and time of departure have yet to be set because of changing weather conditions and the fluid nature of preparing Atlantis for the flight.

For the first time ever, a ferry flight team member will blog details of Atlantis' trip. Live status updates will be added periodically to the NASA News Twitter feed during the flight.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of Atlantis' departure and arrival.

ejectr
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posted 05-29-2009 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Inspectors noted some damage on both the interior and exterior of Atlantis' right Orbital Maneuvering Engine nozzle that was apparently caused by a micrometeoroid strike while Atlantis was in orbit.
Wow...It's a good thing that micrometeoroid hit the OMS nozzle instead of one of the EVA people.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-30-2009 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dryden Flight Research Center update
Atlantis' Ferry Flight no Earlier Than Sunday Afternoon

Post-mission servicing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and preparations for its ferry flight are progressing well at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, and shuttle managers are targeting preparations to be complete by Sunday afternoon. If that schedule can be maintained, the ferry flight itself would depart Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California no earlier than Sunday afternoon, May 31.

Edwards, a restricted access military base, will not be open to the public for viewing of the shuttle's ferry flight departure. However, there are several off-base locations where the 747-shuttle combo may be visible after takeoff.

Technicians clad in self-contained atmospheric protection ensemble or SCAPE suits completed draining of various toxic fluids from Atlantis' systems Thursday. Hydraulic operations to raise the flaps and other flight control surfaces and the landing gear was on tap for Friday evening, followed by installation of the tail cone used to improve the shuttle's aerodynamics during the ferry flight.

Update: Tail cone installation was completed as of 12:40 p.m. CDT on Saturday.
The lift onto the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is scheduled to begin at late Saturday.

A Flight Readiness Review is scheduled for mid-day Saturday...

Update: The readiness review is delayed to 3 p.m. CDT
...at which time managers will decide when the ferry flight will occur and the direction of takeoff from Edwards.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-30-2009 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dryden Flight Research Center update
Space Shuttle Atlantis Ferry Flight To Begin Early Monday

Post-mission servicing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and preparations for its ferry flight are nearing completion at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, and shuttle managers expect preparations to be complete by Sunday evening. If that schedule can be maintained, the ferry flight itself would depart Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California shortly before sunrise Monday morning, June 1.

During a Flight Readiness Review Saturday afternoon at Dryden, ferry flight managers reviewed servicing and preparation work already completed, and found no constraints to a Monday morning departure from Edwards. The cross-country flight of Atlantis mounted atop one of NASA's two modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will be at fairly low altitudes – about 10,000 to 16,000 feet – and will involve several intermediate stops for fuel and at least one overnight stop en route.

An unexpected thunderstorm with high winds slowed operations Friday afternoon, but work resumed Friday evening. Installation of the aerodynamic tail cone over Atlantis rocket engine nozzles was completed at mid-day Saturday, and raising of the landing gear and other closeout work was under way late Saturday. The lift onto the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft was scheduled to begin late Saturday or overnight Sunday.

Atlantis' cross-country ferry flight will be accompanied by a NASA C-9 pathfinder aircraft, which will fly about 100 miles ahead of the piggyback combo to assist the flight crew in avoiding any precipitation that could damage the shuttle's thermal protection blankets.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2009 12:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
The STS-125 ferry flight departure is currently planned for 7:20 a.m. CDT Monday, June 1. There will be a weather briefing at 1 p.m. CDT Sunday. Flight managers are looking at various options for the best route to the Kennedy Space Center. Weather remains very dynamic.

The mate of Atlantis to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft was completed at 6:55 a.m. CDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2009 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Once the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft takes to the air Monday morning, its flight path can be followed in real time via FlightAware.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2009 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Atlantis Almost Ready For Ferry Flight

Teams preparing space shuttle Atlantis for its cross-country trip from California to Florida are running behind their original schedule because of some minor hardware problems. But they're still aiming to depart Edwards Air Force Base this morning.

Managers now will meet for a pretake-off weather briefing at 8 a.m. CDT for a target departure time of 10 a.m. CDT from Edwards.

Technicians encountered some difficulties while trying to tighten a bolt on the right attach point for connecting Atlantis to its modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The bolt now is securely in place, and Atlantis is almost ready to begin its ferry flight back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Weather permitting, Atlantis could be back at its Florida home Tuesday night.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2009 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Atlantis, atop its Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, is scheduled to take off from Edwards Air Force Base in California at 9:55 a.m. CDT and fly to Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas, where it will spend the night due to the weather conditions further east. The flight should take just under two hours.

Photo credit: NASA/Monroe Conner

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2009 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space shuttle Atlantis, atop a modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California at 10:06 a.m. CDT to fly to Biggs Army Airfield. Following the two hour flight, the vehicle will spend the night in El Paso, Texas, awaiting better weather conditions to proceed on its way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Video and photo credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2009 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying Atlantis landed at Briggs Army Airfield at 12:22 p.m. CDT. The orbiter will remain in El Paso, Texas for the remainder of the day and tonight, as the ferry flight team awaits acceptable weather conditions to continue to Florida.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 06:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Shuttle Atlantis' Ferry Flight to Florida Continues This Morning

Space shuttle Atlantis is being prepared to continue its cross-country ferry flight to Florida today.

Managers met this morning for a weather briefing. They decided that Atlantis' departure on top of a modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Biggs Army Air Field, in El Paso, Texas now will take place no earlier than 7:40 a.m. CDT.

The ferry flight team will continue to assess the weather to determine the best route to take from Texas to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Managers now estimate the earliest arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility will be about 5 p.m. CDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is scheduled to depart with Atlantis from Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas at 7:40 a.m. CDT and fly to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

The one and a half hour flight is the next leg in Atlantis' ferry flight back to Kennedy Space Center, where the 747 crew hopes to land by this evening.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA911, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft ferrying Atlantis, departed El Paso at 7:40 a.m. CDT and is now on its way to San Antonio, for a scheduled 9:10 a.m. arrival.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Atlantis arrived in San Antonio at 9:07 a.m. CDT.

The ferry flight is expected to depart Lackland Air Force Base at 11:00 a.m. CDT for the two hour flight to Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA911, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft ferrying Atlantis, departed Lackland Air Force Base at 11:37 a.m. CDT and is on its way to Columbus, Mississippi, for a scheduled 1:35 p.m. arrival.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Atlantis En Route to Kennedy Space Center

Space shuttle Atlantis is on the final leg of its cross-country ferry flight back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Atlantis on top of its modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft departed Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi at 3:37 p.m. CDT. The flight to Kennedy is expected to take about an hour and 50 minutes.

Weather permitting, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will approach Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility from the south, providing a fly-by of Space Coast beaches before landing at about 5:30 p.m. CDT.

Atlantis' arrival will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2009 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Atlantis-747 Combo Arrives in Florida After Cross-Country Ferry Flight

NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday evening, concluding a more than 2,500-mile cross-country ferry flight from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.

The piggyback pair left Edwards Monday morning and flew to Biggs Army Air Field adjacent to El Paso, Texas, where it remained overnight.

The 747-shuttle combo then flew to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday morning for refueling, and then continued on to Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi on the third leg of the cross-country journey. After refueling again at Columbus Tuesday afternoon, the modified Boeing 747 with Atlantis atop flew on to Kennedy, performing a low-level flyby of Florida's space coast beaches and the space center before touching down at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway at 5:53 p.m. CDT.

Atlantis landed at Edwards May 24 at the conclusion of the STS-125 mission to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, after poor weather in Florida prevented landing there.


Video credit: NASA TV

KSCartist
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posted 06-02-2009 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We got a great look at the Atlantis/747 combo as it flew over Titusville from north to south before it banked left to line up with the SLF runway.

What a great show!

tncmaxq
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posted 06-02-2009 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tncmaxq   Click Here to Email tncmaxq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Those pilots must have nerves of steel.

All times are CT (US)

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