Shuttle News: July 2006 Archives

Editor's note: In response to a request by NASA Watch three weeks ago, NASA has posted the following Contingency Shuttle Crew Support (CSCS) (Safe Haven) Documents on its website:

  • CSCS/Rescue Flight Resource Book (2.3 MB PDF)
  • STS-121 CSCS Capbility Report (104 Kb PDF)
  • CSCS Flight Rules (36 Kb PDF)
  • Editor's note: This edited version of STS-121 launch video shows live RocketCam video next to the video from two other videorecorders mounted on the shuttle's solid rocket boosters. The three-camera perspective is rather unique. You can watch what the two SRBs do after they separate from the Shuttle and fall back to Earth while the Shuttle continues its climb to orbit. Other Ecliptic Enterprises launch videos are online here.

    NASA JSC Solicitation: Bridge to Future Competitions for Program Management Support Functions to the Constellation Program

    "The SPOC will be awarded as a sole source procurement under a Justification For Other Than Full and Open Competition (JOFOC) approved on September 13, 2004 to United Space Alliance (USA); and it is anticipated SPOC would contain a similar ordering provision for Constellation work. The period of performance for this effort under the SPOC will end September 30, 2010."

    STS-121 Update

    APU Issues Continue

    Shuttle prepares to leave space station, Orlando Sentinel

    "Flight rules stipulate that an APU is classified as lost if it is leaking hydrazine or engineers are unsure. The rule is significant because it means stricter weather requirements for Discovery's landing. In the unlikely event a second APU failed, the shuttle would be forced to land immediately at the next available opportunity. Shannon said the flight rule isn't applicable to this case because of the slow rate of the leak."

    Discovery's mission winds down; APU 1 defined as "lost", Orlando Sentinel

    "For now, the mission is expected to proceed as planned. In fact, it's possible APU 1 might still be available for landing. Engineers could decide to start APU 1 in orbit and burn off the rest of its fuel to minimize the risk of hydrazine leaking into Discovery's aft compartment. Or they could choose to run the unit normally during reentry. The issue is expected to be discussed at length during today's mission management team meeting."

    Sure looks that way...

    Left aft SRB camera (13.7 Mb Quicktime movie)

    Editor's Update: Allard Beutel from PAO has confirmed that these are indeed Tyvek covers coming off of the RCS jets.

    Editor's note: just after Discovery cleared the tower several white objects seem to be coming off of the orbiter's nose and fall close to the vehicle.

    Are they pieces of ice? Tyvek RCS covers?

    See enlarged screen grab of successive frames.

    Simply Stunning

    NASA Releases Movie of STS-121 Solid Rocket Booster Separation As Viewed From A Camera On A SRB

    Editor's note: NASA has released a stunning movie taken of Space Shuttle Discovery as it drops its Solid Rocket Boosters taken by a camera located on one of those boosters.

    Editor's update: Additional STS-121 Solid Rocket Boosters Videos have been released.

  • Right forward SRB camera (Windows media) Go to this page
  • Right aft SRB camera (Windows media) Go to this page
  • Left aft SRB camera (13.7 Mb Quicktime movie)
  • Left forward SRB camera (13.6 Mb Quicktime movie)
  • Separation composite view (10 Mb Quicktime movie)
  • Editor's note: I had a chance to ask the crews of Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station a question this morning.

    KEITH COWING: Keith Cowing, You've arrived safely in space, and your shuttle is apparently OK for the ride home. As such, most of the general news media will now promptly lose interest in much of what you do up there.

    As a result most of the public is going to be more or less convinced that all you do is wake up to songs from the 60s and the 70s, float around and play with your food, take space walks, and send back pretty pictures. But they never get an idea of the true substance of what you're trying to do up there - and how it fits in with NASA's plans. This is an old problem - it's always lamented - but never fixed. What can you say right now - try it differently - try different words - so as to evoke the importance of what you are doing - for everybody.

    Editor's note: Robert Pearlman from wasted valuable crew time today when he asked the STS-121/Expedition 13 crew whether there were any Longhorns in space - since there are some Aggies up there. Pearlman did not ask anything remotely connected to the mission, its importance, the tasks the crew has performed, the challenges they faced, or even the classic "what's it like to be in space" question.

    Editor's update: Allard Buetel from PAO called: the item I noticed has never been included in the Execute Packages and is routine stuff about call signs, etc. Routine stuff.

    Editor's note: Have a look at the NASA STS-121/ULF1.1 FD 06 Execute Package. If you look carefully at the Message index (below), you'll see that NASA edited/excised/censored one small part. i.e. "MSG 43 FD06 Crew News Conference Message". MSG 42 and 44 are shown - but this one item is curiously missing. What is it about the information given to the crew about this media event that PAO does not want the media to see? I have asked PAO - let's see what they say.

    Editor's note:The following is a transcript of an exchange during a STS-121 press briefing on 6 July 2006 with reporters participating on site at NASA JSC and by telephone from KSC and NASA Headquarters. The briefer at JSC was Lead flight director Tony Ceccacci. I asked if NASA could release the procedure document(s) that describe how NASA would implement a CSCS [Contingency Shuttle Crew Support] or "Safe Haven" scenario if a shuttle crew were required to await rescue aboard the ISS.

    Given that NASA has already posted the Space Shuttle Program Contingency Action Plan, NSTS-12820 Generic Flight Rules, and NSTS-18308 STS-107 Flight Rules as well as daily STS-121 Execute Packages, one would think that the release of this material would be a simple matter to accomplish. Alas, NASA did not say "Yes" when I asked. Instead they said "that's something we'll have to look into."

    NASA STS-121/ULF1.1 FD 05 Execute Package

    4. WCS OPS

    Just as an example of how closely Big Brother watches, we would like to remind you remaining fluid in drink bags should not be poured down the WCS but stowed in Wet Trash (yes, they can tell). There is a concern that the additives may react with the oxone in the WCS to form precipitates, which may cause blockages in the waste lines.

    Still No. 1 on Earth, but sad 2nd in space, opinion, USA Today

    "Independence Day always should make us proud that we still live in freedom in the leading nation on earth. But here at the Gateway to the Universe, there are sobering reminders that we sadly have frittered away the leadership we once had in space."

    Editor's note: It would seem that NASA's own document distribution system is somehwat dysfunctional. Have a look at this screen grab of the ET FRR charts originally posted on NASA Watch. They are now posted on a NASA server (URL modified to protect people's jobs). I suppose I should post more FRR charts so as to make sure that people at NASA have the data they need to do their jobs.

    Editor's update: Here are some more charts from the 16 June 2006 FSTS-121 FRR:

    Flight Crew Operations Directorate
    Flight Operations and Integration
    Systems Engineering & Integration

    Editor's note: Do you have thoughts about the STS-121 mission - foam, safety, Flight Readiness Review decisions, etc.? If so, send them to Your comments thus far:

    NYT on Shuttle

    The Shuttle Takes Off (opinion), NY Times

    "The striking thing about this shuttle flight is that the most important task is simply survival of both the vehicle and the astronauts who are riding in it."

    Editor's note: When asked what his feelings were during the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery this afternoon, Mike Griffin replied that during the launch he was busy "looking at data" and that he was "not aware" of what his feelings were. Later he said "I'll have time for feelings after I am dead."

    According to this official NASA photo, Mike Griffin apparently did watch the launch - either that, or everyone is looking at a Jumbotron with "data" outside the windows. In this picture and this picture he's even using binocculars. Hardly the best way to look at "data".

    C'mon Mike. This Spock impression schtick is getting to be a little creepy. Admit it - you run the agency more like Scotty. Lighten up.

    Just call me Spock (earlier post)

    Mystery object might have been ice , Orlando Sentinel

    "The crew has sent down video of the mystery object that astronaut Mike Fossum saw floating away from the shuttle while he was doing routine filming of external-tank separation. NASA says preliminary analysis indicates that the object is ice."

    More Foam Shedding

    NASA not concerned about foam loss, Orlando Sentinel

    "Speaking now in a news conference, managers say that engineers already have noted foam loss in two separate incidents. Shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said three or four small objects appear to break off the tank about 2 minutes, 47 seconds into flight.

    Then more debris is seen liberating from the tank about 4 minutes, 50 seconds after launch."

    Transcript of Comments Made by Editor Keith Cowing on CNN's Space Shuttle Launch Coverage

    "... And then when reporters tried to get documents that went with this review, the Flight Readiness Review, NASA refused to post them, even though they had put the very same documents out for the public to see before Eileen Collins' mission. ... I got a hold of one of those documents that had to do with the external tank and I posted it on NASA Watch."

    STS-121 Post launch press conference:

    Reporter: "Now that it is launched can we have the FRR material?"

    Mike Griffin: "No".

    NASA Watch on CNN

    Comments by NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing Appearing on CNN's STS-121 Launch Coverage, CNN

    "COWING: Well, the issue here is not so much the technical decision, it's just NASA's inability to be very clear in explaining what it is they decided. In the original Flight Readiness Review decisions they said, well, we're "no go" because something can happen to the vehicle, but we're OK with the mission.

    Now, that sounds a little oxymoronic..."

    Editor's note: The Space Shuttle Discovery launched today at 2:37:55 pm EDT with no apparent problems. The shuttle is currently scheduled to return the morning of July 16.

    There appears to have been some foam shedding. Video and pictures will be analyzed by the mission management and imagery analysis teams over the next few hours.

    [Watch NASA TV for continuing coverage.]

    Editor's note: I filmed an interview with WTTG-5 (Fox) which will air in Washington DC at 10:00 pm EDT Monday night. I am scheduled to appear on NPR's Day to Day Tuesday morning at 10:30 am EDT, and on CNN's Pipeline and CNN TV launch coverage Tuesday afternoon.

    Editor's note: After examining the foam loss issue in depth, NASA has decided to continue the count for a launch attempt tomorrow.

    Mission Management Press Briefing at 9:00 pm EDT [watch NASA TV]

    Foam Issue May Delay Shuttle Launch [with hi res images], SpaceRef

    "NASA continues to prepare for a third launch attempt for STS-121 while dealing with foam shedding issues. During an inspection of the Shuttle's External Tank it was discovered that an external liquid oxygen line outside of the tank apparently shed a very small piece of foam as a result of the expansion/contraction of the tank that results from the loading and unloading of cryogenic propellants. The piece weighed .00577 pounds."

    Crack found in Discovery external tank insulation, Spaceflightnow

    Foam falls from Discovery's tank on pad, Orlando Sentinel

    "During a pad "walkdown" Sunday evening, inspectors found a crack on the shuttle's external fuel tank near a bracket that holds an oxygen feedline in place. Later, a chunk of foam that apparently fell from the area was found on the shuttle's mobile launch platform. It is not clear yet what, if any, impact this will have on Discovery's planned launch Tuesday. The Mission Management Team is scheduled to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue at 10 a.m. this morning. The following is a copy of the inspection team's report: ...."

    Happy Birthday to the USA: Home of the Worlds Funniest Press Conference Props, Wonkette

    "You guys feel free to enjoy these vaguely dirty (in a sophomoric way) photos from the NASA "We're Still Incompetent" presser, courtesy Getty Images. We couldn't pick just one to snicker at, so there are more after the jump."

    Griffin Does CNN

    Interview With Mike Griffin, CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (Scroll down)

    "GRIFFIN: Well, the folks who wrote that editorial are living two years in the past. That debate was held. It was held on a national level. It was extensive. And at the end of all that, two years ago, following the loss of Columbia -- three years ago -- the president decided to continue with the space station program and to allow the shuttle to fly out to an orderly retirement in 2010."

    Editor's note: Yea Mike, but that date was chosen assuming that there would have been a return to flight by mid-2004 and that we'd have had as many as 10 flights by now (using your 4.5 flights/year rate). We've only had one flight. That's 9 less flights to complete the ISS. Have you ever raised this point with the White House?

    Remarks By Vice President Dick Cheney to the Traveling Press After the Postponement of the Launch of Space Shuttle STS-121 Discovery

    "THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. I was down here -- when I was a member of Congress, early in the program in the '80s -- really looking forward to today; especially looking forward to having my grandkids here. But it's not to be today, and maybe it'll work tomorrow."

    Editor's note: Look closely and you will see that the Vice President is clutching a can of soda. But it is not just any can of soda. Instead, it is a very specific brand officially required by the White House (in a memo) for all of the Veep's trips. Four cans are required. No word yet from PAO as to whether he drank all four - or if "all televisions were tuned to Fox News" (which is also official policy). Have a look at the enlarged image below:

    Weather forces NASA to scrub shuttle launch, CNN
    Weather strikes again as NASA scrubs launch attempt, Orlando Sentinel
    Launching of Space Shuttle Is Delayed Again, NY Times
    Shuttle Launch Scrubbed Again, Washington Post
    Discovery launch delayed to Independence Day, SpaceflightNow

    NASA Aims for Independence Day Shuttle Launch

    "NASA's launch of Space Shuttle Discovery at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., was scrubbed again today due to inclement weather. The primary concern was the presence of showers and thunderstorms within the surrounding area of the launch site. The next launch attempt for Discovery's STS-121 mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:38 p.m. EDT."

    Editor's note: Weather conditions at KSC do not look very favorable right now. Forecasters predict only a 30% chance that weather conditions will permit a launch today at 3:26 pm EDT. Things look to be much the same on Monday as well (40% chance) - but they do look better on Tuesday, July 4th (60%) [see launch weather report]

    Editor's note: The following image showing Ops Commit Criteria, was shown on one of the KSC video feeds at 11:00 am EDT. With all the red (no go) ratings under "observed comditions", It doesn't bode well for a launch today.

    NASA's Launch Blog - Mission STS-121

    "If we scrub today due to weather, mission managers will meet later to decide if they want to make a third consecutive launch attempt or stand down for one day and try again on Tuesday."

    Calculating Risk

    NASA Says Shuttle Risk Overstated; Yet Some Risk Unavoidable, Popular Mechanics

    "NASA's official overall probability risk assessment number (PRAN) for complete loss of life and vehicle for the Space Shuttle remains at the widely quoted 1/100. Theoretically, there's a one percent chance of catastrophe. While the agency stresses that Space Shuttle flights are extremely dangerous missionssending humans into space always isofficials worry that the risk has been overstated. According to NASA, in practice, it's not as bad as it sounds."

    Editor's note: Mike Griffin will be a guest tomorrow on CNN Late Edition (11 am - 1 pm EDT) and also on Fox News Sunday

    NASA Watch on CNN

    Editor's update: Looks like I will be doing these two CNN programs again tomorrow (Sunday)

    Editor's note: I will be a guest on CNN's Pipeline starting around 1:00 pm EDT and a little later, on CNN as part of their launch coverage for STS-121.

    Eileen Collins Rides TV Air Waves Instead of Space Shuttle, NY Times

    Transcript of Comments Made by Editor Keith Cowing on CNN's Space Shuttle Launch Coverage

    "... perhaps they need to hire some media types and teach them a little engineering, somewhere in the mix you might a better explanation for things. Oftentimes it's [not] NASA's technical abilities, [but] it's ability to relate, not only decisions it's made but also what it's doing and why that's important to a broader audience. So this is a bigger and more long-term problem that NASA's had -- communicating clearly with the public."

    Transcript of Comments Made by Editor Keith Cowing on CNN's Space Shuttle Launch Coverage

    "... And then when reporters tried to get documents that went with this review, the Flight Readiness Review, NASA refused to post them, even though they had put the very same documents out for the public to see before Eileen Collins' mission. ... I got a hold of one of those documents that had to do with the external tank and I posted it on NASA Watch."

    NASA Presentation: STS-121 Flight Readiness Review External Tank Project (ET-119)

    Editor's note: Renowned Information presentation guru Edward Tufte has some comments on this PowerPoint presentation. His comments on NASA's reliance upon the PowerPoint crutch and the pitfalls with using this crutch - appear in the CAIB's final report. NASA also invited him to make a number of presentations across the agency several years ago. Alas, all of his suggestions seem to have been forgotten. Go to his page here and scroll to the bottom (but once you've read the latest entry, take some time to start at the top and work your way through).

    "The tone and style of the presentation seem alienated from professional engineering. It almost looks like the slides were prepared by a PP designer, assisted by several engineers. Or maybe it is just the PP pitch style. I hope the actual engineering for the shuttle is a lot better than the evidence for the engineering shown in this presentation."

    STS-121 Launch Scrubbed on Saturday

    "Today's launch of Space Shuttle Discovery has been postponed for 24 hours because of weather. The preferred launch time for tomorrow is 3:26 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center."

    - Weather delays shuttle launch, CNN
    - NASA scrubs launch, gears up for Sunday attempt, Orlando Sentinel
    - Weather delays shuttle launch until Sunday, Reuters
    - NASA Postpones Discovery Shuttle Launch Until Sunday, NY Times
    - Weather scrubs Discovery launch, SpaceflightNow

    STS-121 Launch Links

    Editor's update: The launch has been scrubbed for today. NASA will try again tomorrow at 3:26 pm eastern.

    - Virtual Launch Center
    - Launch Forecast, PAFB (PDF)
    - CBS Launch Coverage (Bill Harwood)
    - Spaceflight Now Coverage



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    This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from July 2006.

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