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STS-118: Omnibus Thread

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posted on Aug, 16 2007 @ 09:56 PM
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Hi Jbird. It actually depends on the weather, really. Mostly barometer considerations but some to do with humidity too. 7 minutes or so at four times what your electric oven might put out (turn tool steel to liquid type-hot) reducing as the S turns burn the energy off coming up to the landing hack cylinder. I will attempt to get more accurate data on the re-entry heating cycle. All GPS nav now, the 117 landing was 3 centimeters off nominal. Good system.

More in a bit... I wanna talk to a bud over at CSA see what she thinks.

Cheers,

Vic

[edit on 16-8-2007 by V Kaminski]




posted on Aug, 16 2007 @ 10:53 PM
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That was worth the call. There are no robotics issues to report other than the programming and arm rate caliburation estimates were all completed and tested including the neccessary two-arm hand-off some months ago with the exception of simulating the exact point where this damage occurred.

She was also bragging about DEXTRE and how with DEXTRE on the Canadarm 2 this type of repair could be done 100% robotically. DEXTRE has or will have a T-RAD dispenser and the neccessary trowel or spatula and about a bizzillion other attachments and tools. They have a "tiny" version of it for doing neuro-surgery out in Calgary. The big thing though is DEXTRE's eyes... they are even better than the laser-ranging 3D used for Orbiter inspection now by a factor of two. Cool. DEXTRE has a 3D VR type display interface for the operator to wear like a helmet for certain applications.

Some MSM's are already spinning the non-repair "up"... I would expect some to spin it "down" too.

Should the crew come home safely... then they made the right decision even if the orbiter suffers damage that might take it out of the fleet rotation.

EVA 4 without the repair (normal EVA 4 from the mission timeline) will be performed by "Super Dave" Williams and Clayton Anderson on Saturday.

There has been no live broadcast from either ISS or STS since the crew was informed of the decision not to repair.

The Education event went well today with B. Morgan and "B-Alvin" Drew explaining a bunch of questions for school kids in Idaho through an amateur radio fellow from Australia who handled the voice up and downlink and relay to the school in Idaho.

Barbara Morgan said Shuttle will be missed and remembered fondly in the future.

The window pitting issue is a nag. There have been more MMOD strikes since RTF, one was almost serious on shuttle when a payload bay door radiator came close to being punctured. The shuttle must have that cooling system in those doors not leak. A leak could mean ice and no door closure - no re-entry and over-heating APU's and electronics of all type. The ISS took a pretty big hit sometime this spring and a 6mm crater was found in an 8mm thick piece of aluminum on the outside of the Russian air-lock. Space junk is more and more a real problem.

More in a bit,

Vic

[edit on 16-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 16 2007 @ 11:49 PM
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For those with an interest in the TPS performance of STS with missing or eroded tiles upon re-entry a current-ish post-Columbia PDF format document from the NASA Dryden Technical reports server here.

Cheers,

Vic

EDIT: To add the latest TVSKED_Rev-N is available at www.nasa.gov/ntv

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:21 PM
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ISS/STS-118 on-orbit activities today started with the crew wake up a little after 5 AM EDT. A bunch of work was done today sorting some communication problems between Shuttle and ISS. This same problem was evident on STS-117 too during docked operations. "bad wires" is what NASA PAO says. The problem is intermittent and at times "all works just fine" at other times very poorly.

The crew has been transferring cargo from Spacehab to ISS and loading "downhill" destined cargo back on SpaceHab. Williams, Anderson and Mastracchio are keeping busy preparing for saturday's spacewalk which should get underway Saturday morning at about 10:00AM EDT with Williams and Anderson going "outdoors".

There will be a joint crew on-orbit press conference with all 10 people on orbit in about 20 minutes or so at 1:34PM. There will be a news conference (Mission Status Briefing) held at about 3:00PM EDT or a bit later from Johnson Space Center.

Cheers,

Vic

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:39 PM
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Cool info on DEXTRE.

Here's a diagram of it:



Here's a larger annotated version:
www.space.gc.ca...

More info here:
www.space.gc.ca...

[edit on 17-8-2007 by Badge01]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:47 PM
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Isn't she a sweetheart Badge? My buddette over at CSA has promised me some non-proprietary background data on DEX', mostly programming and specs and pics. CSA is working on a "big" promo for DEXTRE. I really hope DEXTRE works as well as promised. It is a very, very, complicated and precision device that might be a significant part of the future of space exploration both manned and unmanned.

Cheers B', thanx for posting the pic!

Vic



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:56 PM
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posted by V Kaminski
For those with an interest in the TPS performance of STS with missing or eroded tiles upon re-entry a current-ish post-Columbia PDF format document from the NASA Dryden Technical reports server here.


Thanks, I have not gone there yet, but I will today. This is my major concern, that the openings we know are there have not been repaired because the repairs are so dangerous that it might end up worse than before we started a fix. Hmm?


A bunch of work was done today sorting some communication problems between Shuttle and ISS. This same problem was evident on STS-117 too during docked operations. "Bad wires" is what NASA PAO says. The problem is intermittent and at times "all works just fine" at other times very poorly.


As an old AF radio and radar mechanic I can confirm “intermittent’” problems are nearly impossible to fix. Because of the singular moment in the ISS and STS, I’d recommend throwing out ALL the old and bringing in brand new all around. And it well tested on the ground.


Williams, Anderson and Mastracchio are keeping busy preparing for Saturday's spacewalk which should get underway Saturday morning at about 10:00AM EDT with Williams and Anderson going "outdoors". There will be a news conference (Mission Status Briefing) held at about 2:00Pm EDT or a bit later from Johnson Space Center. Cheers, Vic


Thanks for the invaluable updates, Mr Vic. You have earned some kind of special award for “awesomeness” in the information and explanations you have favored us with. Thanks again.


[edit on 8/17/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:59 PM
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Seconded on a big APPLAUSE for Vic on his extraordinary coverage of the STS-118.

I see he's had more ATS applause than just about anyone at 39. Mods, let's make it 40.



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:19 PM
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Thank you for the compliments. I still am not sure how to feel about the repair issue... I would have thought an emissivity paint on the HRCI spec tiles damaged would have been obvious as those tiles require the black emissivity paint as a standard coating. To not have that coating on a damaged area sort of suggests to me more erosion would occur than without the coating. If one checks out the TPS performance PDF link previously posted and checks page 25 of 44 one can see the time plotted as the X-axis and the Y-axis as temperature. It is a severe and unforgiving environment... right around Mach 20 things "get real-hot".

I was doing some other TPS research and found out a bunch about the wing leading edge RCC. It actually "floats" on the wing edge retained by "T" seals and a further layer of Iconel (a high temp specialty steel) to protect the aluminum skin and the boron support beams inside the wing. Without the Iconel layer beneath the RCC too much heat would be transferred to the aluminum from the silicon-carbide impregnated RCC.

There is a newer type of tile called FRCI-12 that splits the difference between the high density tiles (22 lb) and the low density tile at 9lbs. The FRCI-12 is thermally superior to both other types and weighs in at a modest 12lbs.

From what I understand as both types of older tiles are "trashed" they get replaced with FRCI-12 spec tiles.

There is still no information on the propellant feed-line umbilical doors condition from NASA. Last I heard they did not get a closed light. That could just mean a bad switch or telemetry relay. It could also mean damage to the doors which have a history of cracked hinges and are replaced pretty frequently. I have not been able to gather much more data on those doors other than there is no repair on orbit as a set procedure.

Cheers, and thanx again for the kind words, best luck to the Endeavour 7!!

Vic

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:29 PM
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I agree on the use of the black paint. I don't see how just painting it could have been a problem, but if you noted the crew's reply to questions about the repair, they seem perfectly happy to just keep the status quo.



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:41 PM
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Originally posted by Badge01
I agree on the use of the black paint. I don't see how just painting it could have been a problem, but if you noted the crew's reply to questions about the repair, they seem perfectly happy to just keep the status quo.


I think painting of the damaged area is not without some risk and it has never been attempted outside of the sims. It really seems to be a "Catch-22" of sorts.

I agree that the crew seem happy with the decision publicly. But to disregard Johnson Engineering is something of a first. Other groups have been on the dissenting side of issues before but not the JSC Engineering Team... I only have limited data. They have ALL the data. Management "wins" every time... or rather almost every time. There have been deaths. I don't wish to see that repeated - ever.

I'm not qualified to be judgemental on this issue. We will know when STS-118 goes for de-orbit on the 22nd (nominal date). That won't keep me from worrying about those folks safety and praying for a fully positive outcome.

Cheers,

Vic

BTW: Weather around the 22nd in the Caribbean may be a signficant issue.

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 03:24 PM
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The Mission Status Press Briefing has just ended.

ISS now has a black-mold (Stachybotrys) problem in it's air-conditioning system (in Russian equipment) and a corrosion issue with the same and connected systems, Kirk Shireman of the ISS Office says, "like rust". The corrosion issue can be dealt with but not repaired easily. The black-mold issue is on ISS is more serious. I will attempt to get more data. There has been mold before behind panels but that was years ago and was dealt with more easily than in duct work.

It may not be able to be treated with anti-septics and anti-biologics as the crew would be required to "take the car off the spark plug while running" just to get at the ducts which are small and extensive... they go everywhere.

The EVA stuff will go as planned tomorrow. Gloves should not be an issue.

Cargo tranfer operations are 76% complete. If there is an STS program going forward they will definitely miss SpaceHab, a wonderful boring bit of hardware on it's last trip "downhill". It's benefits are many including safe-haven during CME's with the correct blanket package. This mission only has the lightweight blankets on SpaceHab.

Still no resolution on the ISS/STS hardwired communications chronic fault. The fault is thought to be on some of the externally routed elements that mate with the STS Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA). I have some pics I'll post at some point of the cable "run" thought (or rather hoped) to be associated with the trouble.

It is intermittent and not a show-stopper in any way as the walk will just revert to comm protocols from before that system was installed and activated. It might be a transient connection right in the connector block as the PMA does "flex" a little tiny bit as moment is controlled by the CMG of the ISS attitude and there is a thermal expansion and contraction factor too.

The PMA sealing ring does build up some ice and it can be seen as oddly shaped bits flying around whenever STS undocks from the ISS. Watch for it on undocking day. That ice could be affecting the connector block/interface tolerances. Or it might just be a bad wire... or maybe even corrosion not external to the ISS but rather internal. That would be bad and very difficult to route around.

The SSPTS (Power Transfer System) to Endeavour will allow an on-orbit stay to the 26th (if, if, if, if times 10) nominally. It was also mentioned that OV-105 could in theory be brought back early say on the 21st, perhaps to beat the weather. That is not planned.

Should Kennedy and Houston get the bad weather, Moscow (Korolev) will have complete control of the de-orbit. I am unsure how that might work out... I can not confirm what facilities are available there for STS use. It has been done before, but not since the new GPS avionics stuff was added.

Looking at Russian Mission Control... reminds me of looking at a 1997-era photo. Have there been upgrades? Yes. What upgrades? Don't know. Do they have any American tech support? Would they need it? Or accept it? Weather... new big problem. Seems to be no end of possibilities both positive and potentially negative.

If just Kennedy gets bad weather no problem. But Houston gets bad weather and things get complicated lickety-split for landing control and network monitoring and about a ... well a whole lot of "other" things.

I watched the entire crew interviews with all 10 on-orbit astros present. That is one high-performance group of humans.
Spirits are "good" and yet pragmatic. I like that.

I have complete confidence in their abilities... particularly Commander Kelly. Tough, fair, smart, skilled, Navy and my personal favorite an "identical twin" as runs in my family. Twins will understand what I'm on about as all twins have a funny-cool affinity.

Weather is heating up. This mission could use some good luck with that.

Cheers,

Vic

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 07:19 PM
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At 7:00PM EDT on NASA-TV Leroy Cain gave and update in lieu of a Post-MMT Press Briefing. He had some interesting things to say. He was described as MMT Chairman Backup for John Shannon. I know Leroy Cain is the Chairman of the Launch Integration Committee. I did not know he also held this position. Normally on this Mission John Shannon has been available for comment.

Leroy Cain really explained the bad weather contingency process very well. It sounds mega-complicated people and timing wise. He said to expect a GO/NO GO for "if" they'd move from Houston (close) by mid-Sunday to mid-Monday time frame. He wants to let most folks know by Sunday. Of course it does depend on the weather... Dean looks mean from the ISS view of the Caribbean.

He talked about the review of the other damage to blankets, window, RCC wing leading edge data, and the other gouges, and the only TPS item yet to clear are some "Q and A" checks on some minor OMS pod tile damage of which I was unaware. Anyway the TPS is "cleared" for re-entry according to NASA.

Given the potential weather hassle they are looking at the schedule and the exact folks who they absolutley must have on hand to preserve a Tuesday set of landing attempts. EVA 4 may change to get STS ready as early as possible and still complete most of the mission objectives if the weather threatens. KSC, Edwards and Northrup would need to be called up no later than Monday - all three sites plus the TAL sites and if Kennedy is "weather-bad" it could get complicated. Worse if Houston has to hand-over to Moscow. Monster organizational challenge... and so many "if" things.

There were some comments about the other External Tanks in the work flow. Two things stuck out for the next tank "ET-120", first a delayed mating of the ET to "the stack" in the VAB for STS-120 until the feedline bracket issue is dealt with - 4 to 8 days... more than that the sked get pushed beyond the nominal Oct 23rd-ish launch date and a decision about "what to do" to fix them..

They might put a type of oil on the foam. They can trim BX foam off too. Or it may be decided that won't do and a "bigger" fix may be required.
It was mentioned that multiple tankings of the ET is to be minimized - good.

They may also choose to do absolutley nothing. If they have to send the tank back to Michoud... all bets are off. The new gen tanks have a different titanium bracket system and the three in the workflow now don't, which may or may not be a good, better or worse or no worse fix than nothing.

It would appear the balance of on-orbit activities and ground preparation schedules will be discussed at this evening's extended MMT meeting (likely where John Shannon was or getting a shower and a shave).

The people work these positions are to be admired for their "energizer-bunny" 100% commitment to a job where a normal day is "hellish" and a bad day is "hotter" and busier.

I envy those who fly in space. I really like and admire, but don't envy these folks, I wouldn't trade places with any manned flight related manager at NASA - the stress must be pretty high at times. Intense.

The airlock campout preparations are done for Williams and Anderson to sleep in. Crew wake is about 6AM EDT. Spacewalk at about 10:30 - 11:30 AM Eastern.

The spacewalk is primarily to attach MMOD panels that refused to be attached earlier this year. They are held on with Dzus type fasteners and have a dual radius aspect to their aluminum construction. Williams mentioned the edges as potential glove hazards as they try and get the fasteners aligned and the panel pushed down into place and turn the fasteners all in micro-gee with out much leverage. Last time it was going to be a one person job... maybe not tomorrow.

There has been no news or voice transmissions from ISS/STS since the PAO media event except for a couple of planning confirmations that included some Canada-joking toward Williams and his appearance as a "large Canadian Cold-Front moving in."

So for now, weather, a spacewalk and an uncertain schedule are the "news".

Cheers,

Vic

[edit on 17-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 07:48 PM
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A quick update: The EVA planning team has just told the crew that no further spacewalk activities after the EWIS (the wireless strain guage data-forwarding computer box that was tampered with pre-launch at Invocon) is set up and that owing to weather EVA 4 may be shortened. The mission status is good and reacting to a rapidly developing set of constraints.
Cheers,

Vic



posted on Aug, 18 2007 @ 10:34 AM
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The TVSKED is up to Rev O and can viewed at an excellent floridatoday.com sub-site called "the flame trench", a TVSKED link.

The Williams led spacewalk started about 40 minutes or so ahead of schedule. The last nominal task in the walk should be the EWIS placement and activation the MISSE devices that were missed on the last walk were picked up. The spacewalk is going well and has some of the smaller non-primary tasks got "bumped" to buy time and flexibility for an early ISS departure. If the current sked "holds" then they will be back "indoors" by about 2:30PM EDT.

ISS/STS hatch closure is scheduled for about 5:00PM EDT. The decision to undock "is" flexible time-wise depending on the results of the Mission Management Team meeting to be held mid-afternoon.

The weather (Dean) is definitely an "active" issue and has thrown an extra "wrench" in the clockworks. Some folks feel that some aspects of space exploration are "less than exciting", I can't help but think for those who are directly involved with the mission that these not-so-expected "challenges" are anything but dull.

More in a few hours,

Vic

EDIT: To add: At about 12:00PM EDT a smoke alarm was false-triggered as happened during STS-117's last ISS visit. Kotov checked out the Destiny Module and all is AOK.

A pic of Dean:



[edit on 18-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 19 2007 @ 12:38 AM
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EVA 4 went very well and accomplished all the revised primary objectives including retrieving the MISSE material sciences pallets and the deploy of EWIS (External Wireless Instrumentation System) NCU (Network Control Unit) that was tampered with and repaired before STS-118's launch.

Williams and Anderson also set up the "parking stands" on ISS to store the OBSS on a future flight previous to the "uphill" trip for the Japanese Kibo module which is so large that it will not fit in the orbiter payload bay with the OBSS, So for that module's deployment the OBSS from the mission before will be left on ISS by STS for use by the Kibo mission.

The time between the end of EVA 4 and ISS/STS hatch-closing was pretty compressed and impressive that the crew (as busy as they have been) could "squeeze" so many of the pre-undocking procedures into an already tight schedule.

All orbiter and ISS systems are nominal for a Sunday morning undocking at about 7:00AM EDT or a little after.

It would seem that NASA has as much de-orbit flexibility built in as is possible to deal with the threat of weather (Hurricane Dean). I hope that a nominal de-orbit occurs with the assistance of Houston as there are plenty of complicating factors should Moscow have to serve as ground control in place of JSC.

The departure of Endeavour should include an ISS "fly around" followed by another round of orbiter external "late" focussed inspections to check for any new possible damage since the "early" inspection.

Consumables on STS-118 are as high as possible thanks to the successful introduction of the SSTPS power transfer system - there is a higher than normal on-orbit "stay" capability for OV-105 post-undocking.

NASA should be having a news conference at some point tomorrow (Sunday) to outline the "bad weather" plans for Johnson Space Center and staff and to announce the alternate landing sites to Kennedy likely White Sands, Edwards and Northrup.

For me the time between now and de-orbit are a "calm" period before one of the more suspenseful re-entries by any Shuttle - when that happens successfully I will be very, very happy.

NASA has some serious decisions to make regarding modification or lack thereof for the series of External Tanks in the current workflow and these ET factors will govern when the next launch can be attempted.

Endeavour's crew wake up time for Sunday will be about 5:00AM EDT.

Cheers,

Vic



posted on Aug, 19 2007 @ 01:53 PM
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The undocking this morning was nominal and only covered via sequential stills over NASA TV owing to the lack of Ku band communications over the undock area. There may be video released later on NASA likely post-mission.

The detailed orbiter inspection is almost done. I saw some discoloured areas on the port wing leading edge RCC. If it is "anything" the Image Analysis team at Johnson will have it sussed-out within hours.

At about noon today something "drifted past" STS-118. Nothing conclusive but different... still looking at it. I'll post if anything "unexplanable". Maybe spacejunk.

Hurricane Dean is the "driver" for re-entry and there is a possibility of going for the earliest opportunity for de-orbit operations also an outside chance of going latest. Tuesday seems too close "almost" depending on the weather... Monday is technically doable. So is Thursday and Friday.

There will be a Mission management team Meeting press briefing at Johnson' and John Shannon will be updating the rapidly changing situation on-orbit and on the ground.

Fingers-crossed
,

Vic



posted on Aug, 19 2007 @ 03:51 PM
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The post-MMT briefing was brief. KSC and Edwards are prime landing sites for Tuesday. It will be firmer tomorrow - all depends on the weather. The crew has the balance of the day "off" - well deserved! Nominal Tuesday de-orbit burn at 11:25AM EDT with landing (at KSC) at 12:31PM EDT Tuesday. A bunch could happen between now and then. Image Analysis in Houston has the late orbiter inspection data and will be completed and report on Monday. MMT press briefing tomorrow mid-afternoon-ish.

Some pics of that "whatever" drifting by STS at about 12:07PM EDT:









Cheers,

Vic



posted on Aug, 19 2007 @ 08:23 PM
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The 16th or so revision to the mission schedule has been released and the TVSKED is up to Rev P. Most ever to my best knowledge. The Endeavour 7 spent some time with family tonight enjoying deserved time "off".

Tomorrow Flight day 13 will be a busy day. A bit of cabin stowage, lotsa check lists. Wake up is 4:36AM EDT, Flight Control Surface checkout at 8:01AM, RCS Hot Fire at 9:11AM, a Canadian Educational/VIP event at 11:36AM. Hmmm VIP? Smells political. LOL. Media-op. SpaceHab gets buttoned up for the last time at about 1:00PM and no more live video after about 5:45PM when the Ku Band antenna is stowed.

According to TVSKED Rev P there will be a Mission Status briefing at 2:30PM EDT and a Post-MMT briefing at 5:00PM. Those two briefings will be high on my viewing list for sure.

Apparently JSC can operate in very bad weather and it would seem well planned out. They are staying for Tuesday at JSC. White Sands is not being "called up" for landing Tuesday. KSC and Edwards are the choice spots. Tuesday will be very interesting. Kathy Winters (45 Weather Squadron Cape Canveral AFB) is calling the forecast - her record is near perfect for launches and almost as good for landings. Best there is.

STS can return to ISS if needed but not without some difficulties should bad weather for several days at the landing sights require that. Edwards would seem the smart bet maybe on orbit 20(x) and it would avoid the KSC local mid-day showers bugaboo.

For those with an interest NASA has published the landing tracks, here's a primer so you can understand the NASA-Acronym stack, here DOL PAD and the de-orbit tracks, here. The latest TVSKED can be found at NASA-TV here.

The landing of one of these OV's is quite a feat... the landing tracks at the local level inside the HAC cylinder are cool. Nominally all done by the GPS nav system - very cool.

Should things get really, really crazy on the ground STS-118 could in theory use an emergency de-orbit at almost anytime should it be required... there are such provisions and the GPS system has every STS compatible runway already on-board as software. Much of the nav stuff loaded by the pilot and commander before TIG burn is for the older systems on board as backup. Nice - multiple backups several layers deep.

If the RCS Hot Fire is broadcast Monday check it out - the ice sprays are impressive especially off the OMS Pods which can shed pretty large funny shaped bits of ice. My fav is when they check the aero-surfaces - you don't often get to see a shuttle "flap it's wings".

I'm watching Dean from orbit on ISS... it's big, really big.

Best luck to all those in Dean's vortex,

Vic

[edit on 19-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 07:04 AM
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Crew wake up was right on time.

Monday morning FCS and RCS Hot Fire checkouts were completed ahead of schedule by Endeavour with only a reset of some external air pressure transducers being off-nominal. The reset seemed to "zero" the sensors.

They are well up on the timeline today.

None of the FCS checkout was covered with live video and only one RCS "burp" was seen via sequential still video owing to being out of Ku band antenna range. There were no reports so far of any off-nominals in the FCS or RCS.


Cheers,

Vic

[edit on 20-8-2007 by V Kaminski]



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