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  STS-131: Readying Discovery to loft Leonardo

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Author Topic:   STS-131: Readying Discovery to loft Leonardo
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2010 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-131, the 33rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station, will deliver the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo filled with science racks to be transferred to the orbiting laboratory. The flight will feature three spacewalks.

Alan Poindexter will command space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 crew. Jim Dutton will serve as the pilot. Mission specialists are Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Clay Anderson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Discovery is targeted to launch the STS-131 mission on April 5, 2010.


Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery was moved from Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Feb. 22, 2010. In the VAB, Discovery will be lifted into a high bay where it will be mated to its external tank and solid rocket boosters.

Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-27-2010 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery was hoisted and attached to its external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Rollout of the shuttle stack to Launch Pad 39A is planned for March 2.


Credit: NASA TV


Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-01-2010 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The STS-131 astronauts arrived at Kennedy Space Center Monday for several days of pre-launch training and a dress rehearsal launch, the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT).

After a day's delay, the result of a stormy weather forecast, Discovery is ready to be moved from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39A. First motion is targeted for 12:01 a.m. EST Wednesday.


Credit: NASA TV


Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-03-2010 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just before midnight Tuesday night, space shuttle Discovery began its slow roll from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Riding aboard the crawler transporter, the shuttle completed the 3.4-mile trip and was secured to the pad by 7 a.m. EST.

The seven astronauts for Discovery's STS-131 mission, who are at Kennedy for their launch countdown dress rehearsal this week, were on-hand for the beginning of the move. The crew will continue pre-launch training today.


Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-05-2010 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Early Friday afternoon, the STS-131 astronauts departed from the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, heading back to their home base at Houston's Johnson Space Center in T-38 jets.

Earlier in the day, the crewmembers finished a week of pre-launch training that culminated at Pad 39A as they climbed aboard Discovery for a full-dress launch rehearsal, known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT). The exercise gave the crew, launch team and technicians an opportunity to walk through all the steps leading up to the launch.


Credit: NASA TV


Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-13-2010 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On March 8, inside the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, the Lightweight Multi-Purpose Equipment Support Structure Carrier carrying the Ammonia Tank Assembly was moved by crane into the payload canister. Two days later, the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo was similarly installed.

The next day on March 11, the payload canister was rotated into a vertical position and secured on its transporter for its move to Pad 39A on Wednesday, March 17.


Credit: NASA/Glen Benson


Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller


Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-13-2010 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
RSS rollback, payload to the pad delayed at least 24 hours

Last night, while venting shuttle Discovery's aft fuel propellant tanks in preparation for fuel loading, the Right Reaction Control System (RRCS) fuel helium tank pressure unexpectedly decreased in unison with the RRCS fuel propellant tank.

Troubleshooting overnight revealed at least one helium isolation valve that is leaking or is remaining in the open position when it is expected to be closed.

Following a review meeting this morning, engineers have decided to complete Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) Reaction Control System fuel loading, Solid Rocket Booster Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) tilt system and Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) hydrazine loads this weekend.

Engineers will meet again Monday morning to discuss options.

Currently, Rotating Service Structure (RSS) rotation will be delayed to no earlier than Tuesday, March 16; and payload delivery to the pad will be delayed to no earlier than Wednesday, March 17.

Launch still is targeted for April 5.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-15-2010 10:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Test Set for Helium System Regulators

Space shuttle program managers and engineers met on Monday morning to discuss options following an issue that occurred this weekend while shuttle Discovery's aft fuel propellant tanks were being vented in preparation for fuel loading.

The Right Reaction Control System (RRCS) fuel helium tank pressure unexpectedly decreased in unison with the RRCS fuel propellant tank when the fuel tank was vented. This indicates that at least one of the two parallel helium isolation valves is leaking or is remaining in the open position when it is expected to be closed.

Two helium system regulators, a primary and a secondary, will be tested to verify they are functioning correctly. The regulators are "downstream" of the isolation valves, and help to maintain helium pressure to the fuel tank. Knowing whether the regulators are operating correctly is a key factor for managers who must decide whether to launch with the errant condition of the isolation valves.

The test is expected to occur late this week once a ground support equipment test panel has been calibrated. The helium system will be brought to flight pressure and engineers monitoring the panel will ascertain whether the regulators function properly.

Managers now are targeting Friday, March 19 to move Discovery's payload to Launch Pad 39A starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT.

There still are a few days of contingency left in the schedule to make the targeted launch date of April 5.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-18-2010 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Launch Pad Prepares for Payload Arrival

Today on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians will open the rotating service structure that surrounds space shuttle Discovery. The move is in preparation for the transfer of the canister containing the STS-131 payload, which is set to begin 12:01 a.m. EDT Friday. Once the canister reaches the pad, it will be hoisted into the payload changeout room. From there, the payload, which includes the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, will be installed into Discovery's payload bay on March 24.

Meanwhile, engineers continue evaluating data from a pressurization test of Discovery's right reaction control system's helium system to verify the overall health of the regulators downstream of the helium isolation valves. Preliminary data shows positive results for the test, with further testing scheduled for later in the week. The testing was initiated because of an issue that occurred last weekend while Discovery's aft fuel propellant tanks were being vented in preparation for fuel loading.

After a few days off, the STS-131 crew will brush up on rendezvous techniques at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, as Commander Alan Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. practice in the Shuttle Training Aircraft over the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

Discovery's mission to the International Space Station currently is targeted to launch April 5.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2010 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Discovery's Payload Arrives at the Launch Pad

The canister carrying the payload for space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station made its way to Launch Pad 39A in the predawn darkness Friday morning, March 19, arriving at 2:51 a.m. EDT. The canister was installed in the pad's payload changeout room, and its contents, including the Leonardo multi-purpose logistics module, is set to be transferred to Discovery's cargo bay on March 24.

During the weekend, crews at the pad are performing more tests on Discovery's right reaction control system helium regulators. Engineers will evaluate the data and discuss options Tuesday morning.


Credit: NASA/Amanda Diller


Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2010 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA TV feature
STS-131: Behind the Scenes, Vol. 1

Join astronaut Mike Massimino as he talks with members of the shuttle Discovery crew and their support teams to learn how theyre training and preparing for their upcoming mission to the International Space Station.

Credit: NASA TV

music_space
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posted 03-21-2010 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From looking into the most-often-asked-question to getting assigned as a NASA astronaut!

In the above video, check out this excerpt where Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger recounts the funny way that the former school teacher's quest for the answer to the perennial question about human waste management in space led her to become an astronaut.

Certainly a motivational example of how the curiosity didn't kill the cat!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2010 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Analyzing Discovery's Test Data

Today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers will discuss data from tests performed this past weekend on space shuttle Discovery's right reaction control system helium regulators.

Meanwhile at Pad 39A, crews will open shuttle Discovery's payload bay doors in preparation for tomorrow's installation of the STS-131 mission payload.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2010 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Launch Officials Meet Today for Final Prelaunch Review

Managers are meeting today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the STS-131 Flight Readiness Review, ensuring space shuttle Discovery, the mission's crew and the payload all are ready for flight. At the end of the day-long review, they'll set the official STS-131 launch date.

A press conference will follow the meeting's conclusion on NASA TV. Launch currently is targeted for April 5.

Meanwhile, technicians are completing the closeout of Discovery's aft compartment at Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A. The mission's payload, including the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, was installed inside the shuttle's cargo bay this week.

At Johnson Space Center, the STS-131 astronauts continue to shift their sleep schedules to prepare for the upcoming mission. They will go into quarantine on Saturday, March 27, and are scheduled to fly to Kennedy for the countdown on Thursday, April 1.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2010 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA TV feature
STS-131: Behind the Scenes, Vol. 2

Led by crew members of the next space shuttle mission, astronaut Mike Massimino gets under Discovery's belly for a close-up look at the orbiter's protective tiles.

Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2010 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA TV feature
STS-131: Behind the Scenes, Vol. 3

Join astronaut Mike Massimino as crew members simulate several of space shuttle Discovery's on-orbit maneuvers.

Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2010 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Sets Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Date

Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to begin a 13-day flight to the International Space Station with a launch at 6:21 a.m. EDT on April 5 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery's launch date for the STS-131 mission was announced Friday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready.

STS-131 is the second of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, with the last flight targeted for a September launch.

Discovery will deliver science and supplies to the station. Inside the shuttle's cargo bay is the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, a pressurized "moving van" that will be temporarily attached to the station. The module is filled with supplies, a new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the station's laboratories. The flight will include three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, or backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one, and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior.

Commander Alan Poindexter and his crew are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy at approximately 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 1 for final launch preparations. Joining Poindexter are Pilot Jim Dutton, Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Clay Anderson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. This mission is the first trip into space for Dutton, Lindenburger and Yamazaki.

STS-131 will be Discovery's 38th mission and the 33rd shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-01-2010 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Discovery's crew arrives for launch

Space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday morning, touching down on the Shuttle Landing Facility's runway at 6:53 a.m. EDT in a Gulfstream II jet.


Credit: NASA/Jim Grossman

In brief remarks, commander Alan Poindexter said that the crew is very happy to be at Kennedy, adding, "We had a short flyby of the pad and saw the good ship Discovery out there and it looks great and we're ready to go."

As crews at Pad 39A continue Discovery's final preparations for flight, at 3 a.m. tomorrow, the countdown clock is set to begin ticking down toward a 6:21 a.m. liftoff on Monday.


Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-01-2010 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA TV feature
STS-131: Behind the Scenes, Vol. 4

How do you learn to fly the space shuttle? Come along with astronaut/host Mike Massimino aboard NASA's modified Gulfstream jet as Commander Alan Poindexter and pilot Jim Dutton take to the air to simulate shuttle approaches and landings.

Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-01-2010 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA TV feature
STS-131: Behind the Scenes, Vol. 5

Host Mike Massimino introduces us to the men and women who make the astronauts feel at home, away from home, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center; then, climb aboard the "Astrovan" as the space shuttle Discovery crew heads to the pad for their launch dress rehearsal.

Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-01-2010 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
All is "go" for Monday liftoff

At this morning's STS-131 countdown status briefing, everything was reported "go," pointing toward space shuttle Discovery's liftoff on Monday morning.

Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters gave an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time, with the only potential issues being a slight chance of a few clouds or early morning fog.

NASA Test Director Jeremy Graeber reported that since arriving in Florida this morning, the astronauts had conducted a payload inspection at the pad, and the launch team was in final preparation and looking forward to the beginning of the countdown, which begins at 3 a.m. EDT tomorrow.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-02-2010 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
The countdown begins

The countdown for Discovery's STS-131 launch officially began at 3 a.m. EDT at the T-43 hour mark.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-03-2010 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA update
Management team gives "Go" for Discovery launch

Countdown operations are on schedule for space shuttle Discovery to launch at 6:21 a.m. EDT Monday.

The team evaluated a few minor technical issues that came up late in the count but, "at the end of the day, a unanimous poll from the [mission management team] MMT that we're for "go" for launch," said launch integration manager Mike Moses. "We're really excited about this mission... and the science we'll be able to get onboard for the ISS to do what it needs to do to and demonstrate its true ability as a national laboratory."

"The STS-131 launch countdown is in process and everything is in good shape," added launch director Pete Nickolenko. "The team is doing what it does best and we're on track and ready to go for Monday."

Weather officer Kathy Winters reported that the forecast continues to be very favorable for launch day with only a 20-percent chance that weather will be a concern for liftoff. The only issue is the possibility of fog in the area.

The forecast is also looking good for the transatlantic abort sites where the shuttle could land in the unlikely event of an emergency.

On Sunday at about 9:30 a.m. EDT, the rotating service structure at Pad 39A that has protected Discovery will be rolled away. Loading of propellants is scheduled to begin at around 9 p.m.

All times are CT (US)

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