Shuttle News: April 2006 Archives

MSFC claim: ET unacceptable for flight,

"A series of documents acquired by explain the split of opinion that Shuttle manager Wayne Hale referred to during Friday's Shuttle update press conference."

NASA: No more changes to shuttle tank until after launch, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA managers announced today there will be no more major safety changes to the space shuttle's external fuel tank until after the next planned launch in July. The decision follows a debate among engineers on whether to modify so-called ice-frost ramps on the tank's exterior before Discovery's upcoming flight. The small ramps are crafted from foam insulation that is sprayed by hand on the tank's exterior to prevent the buildup of ice."

NASA Administrator Presents Space Shuttle Program Update

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and Associate Administrator for Space Operations William Gerstenmaier will brief the media about the space shuttle program and processing for the next mission (STS-121) Friday, April 28, at 11 a.m. EDT. The briefing will be in the NASA headquarters auditorium, 300 E. St. S.W., Washington."

Editor's note: This update has had several curious changes. First, it was announced last week as a routine media telecon with Wayne Hale from MSFC on 27 April. Then that date was changed to 28 April. Then Mike Griffin visited MSFC today (27 April) where wind tunnel results were presented. Then NASA HQ PAO issues this press release at 5:00 pm anouncing that the event will now originate from NASA HQ with the addition of Mike Griffin and Bill Gerstenmaier.

Interesting PRCB Today

Reader note: "Hell of a PRCB today. After a nearly 6 hour debate, the decision was made to fly the ice frost ramps as is. Griffin and Gerst were even there for this topic. When the final poll was made it was a nearly perfect 50/50 split on fly as is or stand-down and redesign. The FCOD rep (Bowersox) said fly as is, by the way. Most of the offices with the word "Engineering" in their title voted to stand down. It was good to see the program management have the balls to make a tough decision. One of the more amusing aspects of the meeting was watching Muratore (sitting in the cheap-seat) bite his tongue for so long! Apparently, Muratore contacted Griffin either before the meeting or during the lunch break or perhaps via Blackberry to express his opinion though, because Griffin mentioned talking to John earlier in the day. John wanted to stand-down. Mike said fly as is. A truly fascinating meeting that gave me hope for the SSP management. Hope that was lost soon after Parsons was installed and I watched him in action."

Editor's note: John Muratore has been reassigned to EA4.

KEY PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENT - Effective immediately, John F. Muratore, is named the Senior Systems Engineer supporting the Shuttle/Station Engineering Office in the Engineering Directorate. The Shuttle/Station Engineering Office executes the Engineering technical authority and provides the Engineering integration to the programs/projects.

EVA Dropped From STS-121

Spacewalk strategy revised for next shuttle flight, CBS/

"Because of an over-loaded crew timeline and new heat-shield inspection requirements, shuttle flight planners have decided to eliminate one of three previously planned spacewalks from Discovery's upcoming mission - a spacewalk devoted to testing heat-shield repair techniques - in order to give the crew more time off in orbit, officials say."

Tank foam lost during shuttle wind tunnel test, CBS/SpaceFlightNow

"Engineers now believe the expansion and contraction of the tank during multiple fueling cycles contributes to the formation of tiny cracks and other defects that can lead to foam loss during flight. Opponents of the fueling test believe the health of the ECO sensors can be confirmed through electrical testing without the need for a fueling cycle."

Shuttle Tanking Test

Tanking test slated for shuttle, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA sources tell The Write Stuff that shuttle managers have decided to perform a tanking test before Discovery's planned July launch. The test fueling will be held on or about June 1. NASA officials say the test date still would allow a launch in the July window, which extends from the 1st -19th."

NASA Launches Third KSC Accident Investigation Of The Year,

"Workers plugged cables in backwards into a spare power unit used aboard the shuttle. That damaged the equipment valued at nearly a half- million dollars."

July shuttle launch starting to look iffy (with chart), Orlando Sentinel

"NASA's plans to launch space shuttle Discovery from July 1-19 are no sure thing. The shuttle processing chart below from Tuesday's "noon board" meeting shows some of the reasons why. There is little to no margin in the time required to close out work on the external fuel tank before flight and mate it to the shuttle's solid rocket boosters. But perhaps a bigger potential obstacle is the new "tin whiskers" issue."

Editor's note: In the meantime, hallway talk has been heard at NASA of a slip to September. Also, given that a success-driven launch schedule (with no additional long pauses between missions) is required if NASA has any chance of meeting the 16 launch goal i.e. 2 launches in 2006, 4 in 2007, 4 in 2008, 4 in 2009, 3 in 2010 (plus Hubble somewhere), options are being increasingly evaluated for what the most stable (early) end configuration for the ISS is if additional shuttle flights are cut back - or simply don't happen in time before the 2010 cut off.

Former general defends 2002 launch - Donald Pettit disputes NASA investigators' claims, Orlando Sentinel

"Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Pettit this week defended his decision to proceed with a June 2002 space-shuttle launch despite "no go" votes from two top safety officers. While acknowledging the move was unprecedented, Pettit denied the public was exposed to added risk as a result. He said he carefully weighed a number of factors, including unspecified potential security threats nine months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, before giving the go-ahead for liftoff."



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