Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Sept. 2, 1999
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER SPACE SHUTTLE STATUS REPORT
6:00 PM EDT
Shuttle managers today reviewed the progress of electrical wiring inspections and repairs on Endeavour and Discovery. Although the work is progressing well, evaluations of the findings thus far are continuing and managers have expanded the inspections based on those findings, including further inspections of areas below the floor of the payload bay. The time required to complete the work is still being assessed. Managers do not plan to discuss target launch dates for upcoming missions until more of the work has been completed, however it is anticipated that no mission could technically be ready for launch before mid-October at the earliest.
Although damage to wiring has been found and repaired in each orbiter, the primary focus of the inspections and repairs is to put measures in place that ensure damage to wiring does not recur. Those measures include installing flexible plastic tubing over some wiring, smoothing and coating rough edges in the proximity of wiring, and installing various other protective shielding where needed. Also, the ground procedures and equipment used when preparing the orbiters for flight are being revised to reduce the potential for technicians to cause inadvertent damage, and plans are being formulated to ensure that electrical wiring is subject to a thorough inspection regularly as part of standard shuttle maintenance.
"Our focus is to be absolutely certain that we do our very best to find, fix and prevent any recurrence of this problem," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said. "We will not discuss potential launch dates for upcoming missions until we are satisfied that we have done everything we need to do to fly safely. That has and will always be our top priority."
When completed, the technicians will have inspected roughly 100 miles of electrical wiring in each of the four Shuttle orbiters, comprehensively covering the vast majority of the main electrical wiring from nose to tail of the spacecraft. The areas designated for inspection have been identified by gauging their susceptibility to damage by the amount of work generally performed in those areas in the past; past modifications made to the orbiter in those areas; and the past record of wiring damage reports in those areas.
Although numerous locations throughout the orbiters have been identified that require additional preventative measures, the number of places identified in each orbiter where wire has required repair includes:
Endeavour -- 38
Discovery -- 26
Atlantis -- full inspections will begin later this month.
Columbia -- other than initial inspections associated with the short experienced during STS-93, full wiring inspections will be performed when Columbia arrives at the Boeing North American shuttle factory in Palmdale, Ca., late this month.
The repaired wires include areas such as connectors that require some additional insulation and other improvements. Less than half of those identified above are locations where wire repairs related to nicks and other inadvertent damage were required. The inspections have revealed no wiring problems related to age or wear factors.
Payload engineers have determined that the bent freon line associated with the SRTM payload will be repaired with a brace and replacing the line will not be necessary. The bent line was reported earlier this month by a technician working in that area. The freon line is part of a cooling system for some of the SRTM electronics.
Orbiter Atlantis is currently being stored inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, awaiting the opening of Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3. Wiring inspections will begin once Atlantis is moved to the OPF.
Orbiter Columbia continues to undergo routine post flight-deservicing in Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3. Workers are preparing the orbiter for its upcoming Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP) in Palmdale, CA. Once at Palmdale, extensive wiring inspections will be conducted. Columbia is scheduled to be mounted atop NASA's modified Boeing 747 on Sept. 22. The ferry flight from KSC is scheduled to begin on Sept. 23 with an overnight stop at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Current plans have Columbia arriving in Palmdale on Sept. 24. Because the orbiter can not be flown through precipitation of any kind, ferry flight plans are contingent upon weather conditions in the flight path.
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