Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Last Space Shuttle Flight Set
Final Shuttle Flight Set May 31, 2010
Jul 8, 2008
By Frank Morring, Jr./Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
The planned last launch of a U.S. space shuttle is a little less than two years away - on May 31, 2010 - when the shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to lift off with a final load of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS).
Under a new flight manifest issued July 7, NASA plans 10 more shuttle flights starting with the Oct. 8 launch of Atlantis on the final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
After that all missions will go to the ISS, with the STS-126 mission on Endeavour the first in a launch scheduled for Nov. 10. It will deliver supplies and service the twin solar alpha rotary joints (SARJs) that are designed to turn the big solar array wings around each end of the station truss like propellers to keep them pointed at the sun.
The starboard SARJ has been parked since last year, when spacewalkers found it fouled with metallic debris that was causing excessive vibration and power consumption as it turned.
Once that SARJ is cleared, plans under the new manifest call for Discovery to launch on Feb. 12, 2009, with the final set of solar array wings to mount on the starboard end of the truss, outboard of the repaired SARJ. Next up will be Endeavour on May 15, 2009, with the porchlike exposed facility for Japan's Kibo laboratory module.
After that flight, plans call for the station crew to grow from three to six. The remaining six shuttle flights will deliver more supplies, a third pressurized node and a cupola with windows all around, and a Russian Mini Research Module to match one set for launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket in August 2009.
Once the shuttle stops flying, Russia also plans to launch its Multipurpose Laboratory Module with a European robotic arm on a Proton rocket in a mission tentatively scheduled for December 2011. Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is targeted for its first flight in September 2009.
Details of the latest manifest can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/iss_manifest.html.
"The approved target dates are subject to change based on processing and other launch vehicle schedules," NASA stated in releasing the new manifest. "They reflect the agency's commitment to complete assembly of the station and to retire the shuttle fleet as transition continues to the new launch vehicles, including Ares and Orion."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:37 AM