Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Orbiter Atlantis to Return to KSC Following Modification Period
The orbiter Atlantis is scheduled to be returned to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., atop NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) this weekend after spending 19 months at the Rockwell International orbiter manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif.
On Thursday, Rockwell International will officially turn over Atlantis to the KSC/Lockheed Space Operations orbiter processing team to begin its return to KSC. The vehicle will be mated to the 747 SCA at Palmdale and depart about 8 a.m. EDT Friday, May 27. NASA managers are hoping for a one-day ferry flight if en route cross-country weather permits. A single stop will be necessary to refuel the 747.
Atlantis was ferried to Palmdale on Oct. 28, 1992, for its scheduled Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP), a series of equipment upgrades and inspections performed on every orbiter vehicle about once every three years. Atlantis was also modified with enhancements that will permit it to remain in space for longer periods of time and to dock with Russia's space station Mir next year.
"We have added substantially to the cryogenic capability of the vehicle which will allow us to remain in orbit longer than before," said Conrad Nagel, Atlantis' flow director.
Work completed on Atlantis includes:
- Improved nose wheel steering
- Uncommanded brake pressure enhancements
- Installation of the drag chute
- Elevon cove repair and thermal system modifications
- Installation of improved auxiliary power unit connections
- Russia's space station Mir docking modifications
- Extended duration orbiter (EDO) modification
- 5th power reactant storage and distribution tank set enhancements
In addition to these modifications, other work completed on Atlantis includes structural and strut inspections and ammonia boiler system servicing. Checkouts of vehicle systems were completed on the improved auxiliary power units, inertial measurement units, power reactant storage and distribution system and electrical, communications and main propulsion systems.
"The work performed on Atlantis over the past year-and-a-half will allow us to fly more often and with less restrictions," Nagel said. "The improvements will allow us to go places we have not been able to go before."
Atlantis' next flight is scheduled for late this year on an 11-day atmospheric sciences and environmental research mission. Following that, Atlantis' next five scheduled missions are to dock with Russia's space station Mir. The first docking mission is scheduled for launch in the summer of 1995.
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