Endeavour Not Launching on Monday, May 2, Astronauts Heading Back to Houston

SSEP Experiment Status: We have reposted NASA’s Sunday, May 1, 10:01 am EDT,  update below, as it appeared at NASA.gov. We will provide status reports on NanoRacks and ITA payload processing of the SSEP experiments on this SSEP National Blog. Teacher facilitators for all student experiment teams need to be reachable  as we proceed through this fluid environment.

After the first launch scrub, NCESSE, ITA, and NanoRacks, had conversations with those teacher facilitators whose experiments were threatened for a hold of more than 72 hours. It was determined – based on information from the teacher facilitators – that just one of the 16 experiments could not survive a 72 hour scrub, and a work-around for that specific experiment was found. But we are now beyond the 72-hour scrub window, and NanoRacks and ITA are now developing two different work schedules, one for a one week launch delay and one for a two week delay. We will keep you posted.

To tie into this planning, NCESSE needs to ensure that we have the appropriate contact information for all teacher facilitators for the next two weeks. If you are a teacher facilitator, and your situation for how we can reach you might change over the next two weeks, please inform us as soon as possible.

Important Perspective on Education: Given the situation, which is the nature of spaceflight—and the nature of both science and human exploration—the best we can do is to make this a teachable moment, for it really is a wonderful teachable moment. How many pre-college students do you know are part of a team launching a payload into orbit on a Space Shuttle? We’re all part of this remarkable team, and when the going gets tough a team steps up.

So let’s experience this real world problem-solving on the high frontier together. Pass on to friends and family that we invite them to subscribe to this Blog (at the SSEP Home Page), and follow along using the very effective Live STS-134 Streaming Coverage page at the SSEP Communty Network Hubsite.

All communities that have not yet done so, and would like to designate Student Voices of Mission Control so their community can report on their local experiment and their local experience through the launch delay, please contact NCESSE, and we’ll get your Twitter account set up rapidly. Don’t let this teachable moment pass. It in fact is likely a more powerful educational experience than if the Shuttle had launched on schedule.

To teachers across the nation—we again invite you to use the resources on the Make the Final Two Flights of the Shuttle Teachable Moments page, to address in the classroom: Shuttle operations, the phenomenon termed microgravity, and the history and legacy of human spaceflight. On Thursday, April 28, NCESSE disseminated the link to this page to over 50,000 lead educators across the nation, and on Monday, May 2, the National Science Teachers Association will disseminate it to tens of thousands of science teachers across the U.S. and Canada. Get into the spirit of exploration in this moment in history.


NASA Update: No Launch Attempt Monday, Teams to Replace APU Heater Power Box
Sun, 01 May 2011 10:01:10 AM EDT

Technicians and engineers are narrowing in on the likely source of what caused heaters on a fuel line for space shuttle Endeavour’s auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1) to fail on Friday and scrubbing the first launch attempt for the STS-134 mission. But because of work associated with fixing the problem, launch teams will not be able to make a launch attempt tomorrow. Teams will meet Monday and are expected to determine a new “no earlier than” next launch attempt for Endeavour at that time.

Technicians began testing systems associated with the heaters yesterday afternoon and into the overnight hours. Test results indicate the problem is with a power control box, the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2) in Endeavour’s aft compartment. Teams are working on plans to replace the box or any faulty associated hardware. The launch team currently is backing out of launch countdown operations.

There still are numerous factor to be worked out, but just based on the amount of time needed to do the fix, a new launch attempt wouldn’t happen before the end of the week, at the soonest.

Endeavour’s six astronauts are heading back to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for a few days of additional training before they return for the next launch attempt.

Managers will hold a news conference update briefing on NASA TV this afternoon. The exact start time still is TBD.

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The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.