Sunday, August 26, 2007

During landing last week....

Last week I was given the opportunity to tour James Haven (Angelina Jolie's brother) and friend, Shawn B. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were actually scheduled to come for a tour on the day Endeavour landed, but between filming and other commitments, they were unable to break free. Instead, I showed James and Shawn around the OPF where Atlantis is currently "parked" and around the Thermal Protection Systems Facility (where they fabricate all the tiles, blankets, and gap fillers). They were both very intrigued and impressed by all they saw that day.

The resemblence in the pictures below is clear to see who is Angelina Jolie's brother. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

STS-118 returns to KSC safely

Well, it's good that we decided to not repair the tile gouge in the lower surface because the post re-renty photo does not look bad at all! No further damage seems to have been caused during re-entry. I'm glad the crew and vehicle made it home to KSC safely and I am proud to be working with such a devoted and experienced team.

Endeavour has landed!!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lockheed's Material Testing Lab in Denver

This is the robotic chamber where we tested the STA-54 on the tile test article.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to JSC

Well, I just arrived from Denver where we were applying the STA-54 in the test article at Lockheed's Materials Testing Lab. We encountered a couple hiccups during the test, but were able to bring it back so we can do some further testing in JSC's arcjet facility. I took a couple pictures of the robotic chamber, but forgot my camera USB adapter, so I'll upload the pictures tomorrow.

However, it's been made public that the Mission Management Team has decided to fly back with the repair in the as-is condition based on all the results of the models, tests in the arcjet, and various analyses.

Since this decision was made, Team 4 is no longer on alert for repair methods. I get to go home tomorrow and return to KSC and continue to help with getting Atlantis ready for an October roll over.

...and I finished my final today!! yey! 1 and a 1/2 classes left! :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

From Houston to Denver

Team 4 created an oversized tile array with the exact configuration of the damage that is currently being assessed. The Lockheed Martin facilities in Denver have a very nice robotic chamber big enough for us to test putting the STA-54 down into the damage. So that's what I just got back from doing. (and it's 5am..and I've been up since 8am the previous day). A team of us arrived with the test articles via the NASA jet (which was very cool to ride in for the first time!) this afternoon and we successfully put the STA-54 in the cavity. We have to wait for 24 hours for STA-54 to cure. So around 4am on Friday, we'll be heading back to JSC with the test article so it can be tested in the arcjet.

However, later today the Debris Assessment Team will be revealing the final tests results they'll be running in the arcjet (high-temperature furnace) to verify computer models accurately reflect the re-entry environment. Currently, we're 80-90% ok with returning in the as-is condition. So, we're still pressing on with testing of the repair (damage primed with emmitance wash and then STA-54 packed in the gap), until we hear the results from the Mission Management Team.

Ok, I need rest as sometime tomorrow I have to make time to take a 3-hr online final!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flight Day 6

We've been busy here at JSC. I'm part of Team 4. Team 4 is a team of operators, spacewalk experts, crew members, and engineering team members that stand by on every flight to work any problems like the tile damage of concern at the moment.

The tile damage is from foam debris and measures 3.48-inch long and 2.31 inches wide at the base of the 1.12-inch thick tile. Today Team 4 met to discuss three repair options. We have the black emittance wash, which will keep heat from building up in the cavity. Another option is a gun that ejects a heat-resistant, caulk-like material into the cavity. The third repair option is the overlay, which is a 15" x 24" sheet of silicon carbide that gets augered into the tiles to cover up the damage.

Tomorrow morning we have a early morning meeting to start testing and viewing some more analysis results. Schedules and timelines in all groups are affected so you can imagine this is a very big group effort. However, if the analyst can prove that there will be no structural damage to the Orbiter upon re-entry, then we may fly in the as-is condition and it would be safe for the crew to return. However, if we do have to perform a repair option, it would require a two-person crew spacewalk, and be rather lengthy because of the location of the damage on the Orbiter.

I expect tomorrow to be a long day, but it's well worth it when I am working with dedicated engineers and analysts. Seriously, people are working so hard and it's great to see their passion for the space program and the crew. I love coming to Houston to support the mission because you never know what to expect and when an issue comes up, great minds collaborate and IT'S GREAT!

So here's a picture of the damage we're mostly concerned about.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Flight Day 3 - Imagery Inspection

I'm currently in Houston and will be supporting on-orbit imagery inspection this afternoon. The Expedition 15 crew onboard the ISS will be taking images of Endeavour's Thermal Protection System (TPS); tiles, blankets, gapfillers, and RCC. There are Regions Of Interest that we will be focusing on during the inspection:

"One OMS Pod is noted to have a blanket pulled back with some slight protrusion. Although the wording is similar to that noted for Atlantis' OMS Pod blanket issue during STS-117 - which required a spacewalk to pin back into place - Endeavour's OMS Pod blanket protrusion is not as 'obvious' to the naked eye, and is unlikely to require any action at this stage.

The other ROI relates to the adjacent OMS Pod, which is deemed to have a protruding gap filler. Both Pods will receive further evaluation before - and after - the upcoming RPM.

Other ROIs already noted include the need for more imagery of horsecollar gap fillers on the lower starboard panel and on the starboard RCC panel (number 22)."

We'll be able to view these areas once the ISS crew downlinks the images to us. Endeavour is expected to dock with the International Space Station at 1:53pm.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

...And we're ready for launch!

The astronauts just arrived at the launch pad and are preparing to enter Space Shuttle Endeavour at the 195-ft level!!! So far, we're GO for launch!

Here comes the AstroVan!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Launching tomorrow!

I am very excited for this launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour. Astronaut Barbara Morgan will be flying in the same seat position during launch as Christa McAuliffe was during Challenger's launch in 1986, and the crew will be working hard to install a solar array segment and other hardware to the International Space Station. We're scheduled to launch at 6:36pm tomorrow. It didn't rain in the evening today so I am hoping the weather will be in our favor tomorrow. The heat, however, is something that I know we won't be able to dodge. Seriously, it's been disgustingly hot in Florida. :(