3rd January 2008 - 10:04 PM
The word is that the launch of the ESA Columbus module (STS-122) is set for no earlier than Jan 24th. More likely, the first week of February, unless everything goes perfectly. That would move the next launch to mid March (5 weeks later).
The internal connector looked good, so it's just the external connector that is being replaced and then soldered into it's socket. The foam patch up will then be made and a small time is required for the foam to cure.
11th January 2008 - 11:27 PM
5:50 PM, 1/11/08, Update: Russian Progress launch moved up; Atlantis retargeted for Feb. 7; station spacewalk on tap
Russian space managers have agreed to move up the launch of an unmanned Progress supply ship by two days to Feb. 5, clearing the way for NASA to retarget launch of the shuttle Atlantis on a twice-delayed space station assembly mission for Feb. 7. NASA managers made the decision Thursday and officially announced it Friday, after consultation with the agency's international partners.
Originally scheduled for launch last month, Atlantis was grounded Dec. 6 and 9 because of intermittent problems with troublesome low-level hydrogen sensors in the ship's external tank. Before the Christmas break, officials said launch was off until at least Jan. 10 and on Jan. 3, the "no-earlier-than" date was moved to Jan. 24.
But resolving the engine cutoff - ECO - sensor problem has been difficult and deputy shuttle Program Manager John Shannon told reporters at that time the launch likely would slip into early February. This week, agency managers decided to move the launch target to Feb. 7 after Russian space officials agreed to move the Progress up two days to Feb. 5.
7th February 2008 - 11:08 PM
Atlantis thundered safely into orbit today after expected storms from a weakening cold front failed to materialize. The low-level hydrogen fuel sensor circuits that derailed two launch tries in December worked normally today, clearing the way for launch of Atlantis and a European Space Agency research module bound for the international space station.
“I think for Europe, it's the start of manned space flight," Hans Schlegel, a German astronaut making his second flight aboard a space shuttle, said late last year. “Because all of the sudden, we have what we are strong in - developing experiments, building experiments to be conducted in space, either in cooperation with NASA or cooperation with the Russian space agency - all of the sudden we have a module of our own which is available to us, to the scientists in Europe, 24 hours (a day), 365 days a year. This will really be the beginning."
Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency thanked Griffin for the ride to orbit.
"It's a great day for ESA," he said. "I think that from now on, ESA is a visible and complete partner of the international space station. That's not to say we were absent so far, but we were more around tables for discussions than in orbit. Now we have a big piece, we have our laboratory in orbit. I would like first to thank NASA, because they have made the job today. We at ESA today, we were more observers than actors and they have done the job, including influencing the weather!"
The Atlantis astronauts plan to attach the Columbus module to the newly installed Harmony module's right-side port on Feb. 10, the day after docking.
The 22.5-foot-long module weighs some 28,200 pounds and adds 2,600 cubic feet of volume to the station. Built by EADS Space Transportation, Columbus will be launched with four European science racks and one European storage rack in place. NASA later will install five racks of its own. The European Space Agency has spent about $2 billion building Columbus, the experiments that will fly in it and the ground control infrastructure necessary to operate them.
"The laboratory modules are why we're doing it," Griffin said. "On the space station, it's really two things. It's a place to learn how to live and work in space, which we need to do, and for a long period of time before we go to Mars. It's also a place to do the research we would like to do in a better way than we've been able to do it in the more confined places we've flown in before.
"So now, more than a fourth of our laboratory capacity on the station as a whole is going up on this flight. It puts the Europeans into human spaceflight in a visible and permanent way. As you say, it makes the station a truly international collaboration, just every thing about it is good."