Fourth Servicing Mission to HST (SM4) Page 4

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I also saw the roll-out of STS-400 (Endeavour).  This Shuttle will be used as a possible rescue mission for our Shuttle in case it is needed.  This highly unusual arrangement causes two Shuttle vehicles to be located on the two launch pads at the same time.

Signing the banner for STS-400.

At the roll-out of Endeavour.  From left to right: Russ Werneth, Ed Rezac (both EVA),
Mike Soluris (photographer), myself.

Visit to the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility (SSMEPF)

This is one of the fifteen SSMEs that are in existance.  The main nozzle is cooled by liquid hydrogen, and this turns the liquid hydrogen into a gaseous form for combustion.

The entire assembly is supported on a single pivot point, and gimbals left/right
and up/down to steer the Shuttle.  We were permitted to stand in the nozzle.
Light it up!

A view of the guts of the main engine.  At the top, you can see the feed lines for the liquid
hydrogen and oxygen.  The low pressure pumps are just under the flange.  The main computer is on the lower right (with all the connectors).  The high pressure oxidizer turbopump is right in front.

This is the large machine that lifts the main engine into the Shuttle
To see how that is done, see here.

Our guide into the facility was William Muddle, who is one of
the managers of the group.

Installing our hardware into the Shuttle (again)

Now that the Shuttle has been rolled to Pad 39A for launch, we install our hardware into the Shuttle once again.  As before, we install our hardware into a large Canister, which is hoisted into a tower on the launch pad called the Payload Changeout Room (PCR).  From here, we can do our final installations and checkouts between our hardware and the Shuttle.

Inside one of the levels of the PCR.  In the background, you can see one of the Carriers that hold hardware that will be used during the Servicing Mission.

Click here for a 7MB panorama of the PCR.

One of the control panels that moves the giant gantry system towards and away from
the Shuttle to install and access hardware.  Note the close-up of the control stick below.

There is only one bathroom on the launch tower.  It is on the same
level as the crew cabin access and the slide-wire baskets.

Hey guys!  Can you wait a minute!
(note the orange External Tank in the background).

Inside the crewcabin on the mid deck.  In the lower foreground, you can see
one of the space suits (EMUs) that will be used in the mission.  Note the
mission patch on the chest area.

Here I am posing with one of the helmets of the space suit.  The suit is on my right.
This photo shows the final time that I had the privilege of being inside the
crew cabin of the Space Shuttle.  It has been a wonderful few years
working on missions that use this very useful spacecraft.

A typical Shuttle control panel.  These are on the pilot's right, and
you can see the panel names "R1" and "R2" (for "Right").
All of the switches have guards to prevent from being bumped
in flight.  Some also have red locks to prevent someone from hitting them
on the ground.  When the Orbiter is powered up, and these switches
are hit, a thruster can actually fire!

Close-up of the switches that shut down the Main Engines.  Below
these is the button that separates the Solid Rocket Boosters from
the Shuttle.

This is the view from the Payload Changeout Room (PCR) onto
our carriers.  At this point, the gantry covering the hardware has
been pulled back, and we can now see the whole stack for
the first time.  At the top is the airlock through which the
astronauts pass.  Then the next carrier is the SLIC, which
holds WFC3 and the batteries, below that is the ORUC, which
holds the COS, the FGS, IMAX and several boxes containing tools.

It was a breathtaking sight for all of us to see all the carriers in one view.
Under the ORUC, and behind me is the FSS, which holds Hubble during the mission,
and below that is the MULE with the new Science Data Computer,
RNS, and other contingency hardware.
The Cargo Bay is ready for the mission! 

With the mission preparations complete, our team has some time to
sit back and relax.  Left to right: Bob Ritter, Bo Naasz, Ross Henry.

This mission was filmed by IMAX, and a movie will
be released in the Spring of 2010.  On our last visit
to the pad, we saw the camera set up.

Article I wrote for the hometown newspapers in Aruba
just prior to launch.

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(c) 2009, Edward Cheung, all rights reserved.