Friday, November 14, 2008

1120a 11/14 Update: Shuttle fueling begins; weather 70 percent 'go'

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CBS NEWS STS-126 STATUS REPORT: 10
Posted: 11:20 AM, 11/14/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-08 (11/13/08): Countdown on track; weather improves to 70 percent 'go' for Friday launch
   SR-09 (11/13/08): STS-126 mission preview
   SR-10 (11/14/08): Shuttle fueling begins; updated launch time

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11:20 AM, 11/14/08, Update: Shuttle fueling begins; updated launch time; weather 70 percent 'go'

Working by remote control, engineers began pumping a half-million gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen and hydrogen rocket fuel into the shuttle Endeavour's external tank today at 10:40 a.m., setting the stage for launch this evening on a space station assembly mission. The three-hour fueling procedure began about 10 minutes late because of time needed to complete fuel cell calibrations.

Based on updated tracking of the space station, Endeavour's in-plane launch time has moved five seconds later to 7:55:39 p.m. EST. There are no technical problems of any significance at pad 39A and forecasters are continuing to predict a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather.

The primary concerns are possible thick clouds over the pad and isolated showers within 20 nautical miles of the shuttle's emergency runway in advance of a cold front expected to move through central Florida Saturday afternoon. The forecast for Saturday is 70 percent no-go, improving to 80 percent favorable on Sunday.

Endeavour's seven-member crew - commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Eric Boe, Don Pettit, space station flight engineer Sandra Magnus and spacewalkers Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Stephen Bowen and Robert "Shane" Kimbrough - will suit up and head for the launch pad to strap in at 4:05 p.m.

The goals of the year's fourth and final shuttle mission are to deliver a spare coolant system component; two water recycling racks designed to convert urine into potable water; a second toilet; a refrigerator/freezer; and two sleep stations. The equipment is needed to expand the station's crew from three to six next year.

In addition, Stefanyshyn-Piper, Bowen and Kimbrough plan to carry out four spacewalks to clean and lubricate a 10-foot-wide drive gear on the right side of the station's main power truss that has experienced high friction and extensive degradation to one of three bearing races. The spacewalks also plan to replace 11 of the drive gear's 12 bearing assemblies and to lubricate the right-side rotary joint as a precaution.

Finally, Magnus will join Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke and flight engineer Yury Lonchakov. Flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff, launched to the lab complex last June, will return to Earth aboard the shuttle in Magnus' place.

Here is a timeline of the remainder of today's countdown (in EST; reflects 10-minute delay to start of fueling; best viewed with fixed-width font):

EST...........EVENT

10:40 AM......LO2, LH2 transfer line chilldown
10:50 AM......Main propulsion system chill down
10:50 AM......LH2 slow fill
11:20 AM......LO2 slow fill
11:25 AM......Hydrogen ECO sensors go wet
11:30 AM......LO2 fast fill
11:30 AM......Crew breakfast
11:40 AM......LH2 fast fill
01:35 PM......LH2 topping
01:40 PM......LH2 replenish
01:40 PM......LO2 replenish

01:40 PM......Begin 2-hour 30-minute built-in hold (T-minus 3 hours)
01:40 PM......Closeout crew to white room
01:40 PM......External tank in stable replenish mode
01:55 PM......Astronaut support personnel comm checks
02:25 PM......Pre-ingress switch reconfig
02:30 PM......NASA TV coverage begins
02:33 PM......Crew breakfast/photo op (recorded)
03:25 PM......Final crew weather briefing
03:35 PM......Crew suit up begins
04:00 PM......Resume countdown (T-minus 3 hours)

04:05 PM......Crew departs O&C building
04:35 PM......Crew ingress
05:25 PM......Astronaut comm checks
05:40 PM......Hatch closure
06:20 PM......White room closeout

06:40 PM......Begin 10-minute built-in hold (T-minus 20m)
06:50 PM......NASA test director countdown briefing
06:50 PM......Resume countdown (T-minus 20m)

06:51 PM......Backup flight computer to OPS 1
06:55 PM......KSC area clear to launch

07:01 PM......Begin final built-in hold (T-minus 9m)
07:31 PM......NTD launch status verification
07:46:39 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 9m)

07:48:09 PM...Orbiter access arm retraction
07:50:39 PM...Hydraulic power system (APU) start
07:50:44 PM...Terminate LO2 replenish
07:51:39 PM...Purge sequence 4 hydraulic test
07:51:39 PM...Inertial measurement units to inertial
07:51:44 PM...Aerosurface profile
07:52:09 PM...Main engine steering test
07:52:44 PM...LO2 tank pressurization
07:53:04 PM...Fuel cells to internal reactants
07:53:09 PM...Clear caution-and-warning memory
07:53:39 PM...Crew closes visors
07:53:42 PM...LH2 tank pressurization
07:54:49 PM...SRB joint heater deactivation
07:55:08 PM...Shuttle GPCs take control of countdown
07:55:18 PM...SRB steering test
07:55:32 PM...Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds)
07:55:39 PM...SRB ignition (LAUNCH)

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Quick-Launch Web Links:

CBS News STS-126 Status Reports:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/current.html

CBS News STS-126 Quick-Look Page:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/currentglance.html

NASA ISS Expeditions Page:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/index.html

NASA Shuttle Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/index.html
NASA Station Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/index.html
Spaceflight Now: http://spaceflightnow.com/index.html
GoogleSatTrack: http://www.lizard-tail.com/isana/tracking/

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