Last Friday, December 3, 2010, a NASA press conference addressed the ongoing problems with STS-133, the final flight of Shuttle Discovery, which was originally to launch in November 2010. Discovery’s launch has now been delayed until at least February 3, 2011. The impact on STS-134, Shuttle Endeavour’s final flight carrying the SSEP student experiments, is a launch slip from February 27, 2011 until at least April 1, 2011.
Here is an overview of what has happened regarding STS-133 / STS-134 at Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/81174/shuttle-launch-delayed-to-february-of-2011/
On the official NASA STS-134 mission page, we now have a new official STS-134 Launch “Target” of
April 1, 2011: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html
There are now obvious questions coming in from across the SSEP Community Network as to how the launch slip affects the SSEP program. The impact is specifically on the schedule, causing milestone dates to slip accordingly.
All student teams with experiments selected for flight are urged to review the “Critical Timeline” section on the How to Participate Page, and more specifically the subsection “Timeline for selected experiments” which details milestones and deadlines through Shuttle return to Earth. These are the dates that will obviously slide due to the launch delay for STS-134. However, we do not have the ability to modify NASA milestone dates. Only NASA can do that. We will therefore update you on new dates, through this SSEP National Blog, as they are made available to the SSEP Team.
Critical Fluid/Sample Compatibility Test Deadline, December 27, 2010—
Flight Experiment Teams MUST Submit Their Samples (Fluids and Solids) on Time or Risk Loss of Their Flight Opportunity
The first milestone on the “Timeline for selected experiments” is the Fluid/Sample Compatibility Test scheduled for December 26, and we now know it is virtually unaffected by the launch delay.
All basic information for this Test can be found on the new Fluid/Sample Compatibility Test page.
Other Important Points:
1. Each experiment selected for flight is associated with a Teacher Facilitator. We have added the email addresses for the Teacher Facilitators to the subscription list for this SSEP National Blog, so that they receive email notification of important information reported here.
2. Dr. Harri Vanhala, SSEP National Program Manager, has set up a new section titled “Fluid/Sample Compatibility Test”on the STS-134 Flight Experiment FAQ, and all questions regarding this test should be sent directly to him at email@example.com or 202-297-9178.
3. Harri will directly contact the Teacher Facilitators, and SSEP Community Program Directors, as needed if questions about specific experiments arise.
To teachers and students, welcome to the world of real spaceflight and research. It’s what SSEP is all about. This is a great (but trying) teachable moment, and you should know that the professional researchers are going through the same angst right now.
The SSEP on-orbit research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.