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J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-5241

Jessica Rye
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(321) 867-2468

December 2, 2005
NASA's Space Shuttle Processing Status Report: S05-034
NASA's space shuttle fleet is housed and processed at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Mission: STS-121 - 18th ISS Flight (ULF1.1) - Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3
Launch Date: No earlier than May 2006
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Lindsey, Kelly, Sellers, Fossum, Nowak, Wilson and Reiter
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Technicians continue to process Discovery for NASA's second shuttle return-to-flight test mission, STS-121. Powered-up system testing and drag chute door installation continue. Once the cure on the door is complete, it will be opened to verify proper cure, and the flight pins will be installed.

The orbiter boom sensor system is in the transfer aisle of the processing facility awaiting installation. Final work will be completed soon on the manipulator positioning mechanism, the pedestals that hold the boom in place in the payload bay, and the boom will be installed next week.

Mission: STS-115 - 19th ISS Flight (12A) - P3/P4 Solar Arrays
Vehicle: Atlantis (OV-104)
Location: Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1
Launch Date: TBD
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Jett, Ferguson, Tanner, Burbank, MacLean and Stefanyshyn-Piper
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Atlantis processing continues on schedule. Thermal protection system gap-filler pull tests are complete. Work will begin soon to replace selected gap fillers identified during pull tests and analysis. This work is being performed due to two gap fillers that protruded from the underside of Discovery during STS-114. New installation procedures are being developed to ensure the gap fillers stay in place and do not pose a hazard during re-entry.

Preparations to install the forward reaction control system continue. The cavity closeout photos were completed Thursday, and the installation of the system is scheduled for early next week. This control system provides the thrust for attitude maneuvers, pitch, yaw and roll, and for small velocity changes along the orbiter axis.

Endeavour (OV-105)

Body-flap power drive-unit installation continues in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2, with work focused on safety wire and insulation. The main landing gear was cycled this week to support environmental seal compression testing on compartment doors. The vehicle will remain powered down for work on the new modification, called the "station to shuttle power transfer system." The system will allow the shuttle to remain docked to the station longer.

External Tank

At NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, engineers continue evaluating the causes of the foam loss during Discovery's launch in July. Detailed inspections of the Protuberance Air Load ramp of external tank #120 show at least one crack that extends all the way to the tank's base foam layer. Evaluation continues on the cracks, their cause and the possibility of flying STS-121 without the ramp.

Preliminary analysis indicates it is aerodynamically feasible, but additional wind-tunnel testing will be scheduled to ensure flight integrity. Work continues to meet a May launch window. If additional testing shows the ramp is needed, external tank processing will be stopped until requirements are assessed.

For previous space shuttle processing status reports on the Web, visit:

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