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N328KF
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Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:25 am

On October 8, 2009, Atlantis will conduct the final Hubble Space Telescope repair mission from KSC's pad LC-39A. However, as ISS will not be accessible in case of emergency, Endeavour will be ready for immediate launch from neighboring LC-39B. (Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 9, 2008)

My question is — is this the first time two Space Shuttles have been ready for launch simultaneously?

Will anyone who will be in the area at the time be able to get photos of what must be an extremely unique event?
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:59 am

I know I have seen photos of two on the pads, but I don't think the plan was to launch them at the same time.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct

Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:23 am



Quoting N328KF (Thread starter):
My question is — is this the first time two Space Shuttles have been ready for launch simultaneously?

No:



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/STS31_carries_Hubble_to_orbit_edit.jpg

STS-400
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:28 am

I'm not sure which is better:
That NASA routinely sends (with 2 sad exceptions) the Shuttle out to space and back on a fairly regular basis; or that they can have 2 complete ships and crews ready to do said effort. I have a lot of issues with NASA, but I can't help but to feel proud for them every time they launch and recover.

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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:44 am

Have they ever had two in space at the same time?
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curlyheadboy
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:10 am



Quoting CaptOveur (Reply 4):
Have they ever had two in space at the same time?

No, not to my knowledge, as far as I know the main issue being that the control room in Huston was designed to handle one flight at a time, though I imagine they have a plan in case they have to launch the rescue flight and I'd be very curious to know how they plan to handle the situation if (God forbid) they have to rescue a damaged shuttle crew. double work for every engineer or double engineers-per-station?
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:13 am

What kind of timescale would it take toget the second one airborne if needed?

Is it going to be fueled up on the pad? Can it launch anytime or does it still have to wait for a launch window?
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:20 am



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
Is it going to be fueled up on the pad?

Shuttles are always fueled on the pad a few hours prior to the launch, except for the SRBs, obviously.

Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
Can it launch anytime or does it still have to wait for a launch window?

They will have to get into a launch window and hope the weather is go for launch, I imagine the rescue mission being a planning nightmare!
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:43 am



Quoting CURLYHEADBOY (Reply 5):
No, not to my knowledge, as far as I know the main issue being that the control room in Huston was designed to handle one flight at a time, though I imagine they have a plan in case they have to launch the rescue flight and I'd be very curious to know how they plan to handle the situation if (God forbid) they have to rescue a damaged shuttle crew. double work for every engineer or double engineers-per-station?

In the 60s, there were multiple complete sets of Mission Control staff. I know with Gemini 6/7 (which WERE in space together) they had two of the three crews working simultaneously in separate rooms.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:48 am

Quoting N328KF (Reply 8):
In the 60s, there were multiple complete sets of Mission Control staff. I know with Gemini 6/7 (which WERE in space together) they had two of the three crews working simultaneously in separate rooms.

True, I was just talking about the Shuttle program in this context, as I understood the question being asked about the Space Shuttle. I was wondering how they would organize the tasks in the control room in case of two vehicles in orbit at the same time.

BTW, more basic info about STS-400 (the rescue mission) can be found on the Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-400

[Edited 2008-06-13 04:52:41]
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:31 pm



Quoting CURLYHEADBOY (Reply 7):
Shuttles are always fueled on the pad a few hours prior to the launch, except for the SRBs, obviously.

Ok.

I didn't formulate my question right, though. I was wondering whether they can stay fueled up on the pad for extended amounts of time, as I believe they usually fuel them right before the launch.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:58 pm

What if the damaged launch pad isn't repaired by then?
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:24 pm



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 10):
Quoting CURLYHEADBOY (Reply 7):
Shuttles are always fueled on the pad a few hours prior to the launch, except for the SRBs, obviously.

Ok.

I didn't formulate my question right, though. I was wondering whether they can stay fueled up on the pad for extended amounts of time, as I believe they usually fuel them right before the launch.

Oh, allright  Smile

In case of need, the rescue flight is set to launch 10 days after the contingency (a.k.a. mishap), so they should start fuel transfer the launch day, as they normally do on other flights. I don't have precise knowledge about the maximum time the central tank can stay fueled on the ground, but I bet they want it to be the shortest possible time.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:39 pm



Quoting DODCFR (Reply 11):
What if the damaged launch pad isn't repaired by then?

Since both pads are operable, I would imagine they would in that case reverse which one is intended to be the active pad.

And after this, LC-39B is to be taken offline for conversion to Ares. If LC-39A is deemed to be that damaged, maybe they should convert that one first...
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Thorny
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:37 pm



Quoting N328KF (Thread starter):
My question is — is this the first time two Space Shuttles have been ready for launch simultaneously?

Yes, more or less. There have been Shuttles on both pads at the same time on many occasions, but this will be the first time both Shuttles are essentially ready for launch at the same time.

Quoting CaptOveur (Reply 4):
Have they ever had two in space at the same time?

No. It's a manpower issue. The narrowest gap between two Shuttle flights was one week between STS-71 and STS-70 in 1995. The Galileo and Ulysses flights in May 1986 were to be only a few days apart, but the schedule was revamped after the Challenger accident.

Quoting Francoflier (Reply 6):
What kind of timescale would it take toget the second one airborne if needed?

It will have a normal countdown... about four days. But the planning is for launch to be 7 days after LON (launch on need) is called up.

Quoting DODCFR (Reply 11):
What if the damaged launch pad isn't repaired by then?

They'll delay launch until both pads can support launches, possibly shifting 125 to Pad B, but they don't want to launch from B unless they have to (A is more up to date) and since 400 (126) has to be ready a week after 125, switching to B doesn't buy very much time.

Yesterday, NASA said they expect Pad A to be ready in time for the Hubble launch.
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:57 pm

If they had to launch STS-400 could they run the rescue mission out of the cape and the main mission out of Houston?

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Thorny
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:26 am



Quoting Mark5388916 (Reply 15):
If they had to launch STS-400 could they run the rescue mission out of the cape and the main mission out of Houston?

I think the emergency Mission Control is at the TDRS control center at White Sands. They could do some things out of there or out of the Cape, but not higher-level things like rendezvous and docking.

If memory serves, they'll fly both missions out of Houston, but the disabled Shuttle will be put on 'caretaker' status with only minimal support. That's the way they handled Gemini 7 and 6 in 1965.
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:01 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 16):
If memory serves, they'll fly both missions out of Houston, but the disabled Shuttle will be put on 'caretaker' status with only minimal support. That's the way they handled Gemini 7 and 6 in 1965.

This is not true at all (re: Gemini 7/6). If you read Gene Kranz' bio, there were two flight crews working at the same time in different rooms.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:38 am



Quoting N328KF (Reply 17):
This is not true at all (re: Gemini 7/6). If you read Gene Kranz' bio, there were two flight crews working at the same time in different rooms.

The official NASA history, "On the Shoulders of Titans" says differently.

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4203/toc.htm

"Kraft came back from lunch with Low and outlined the gist of the proposal to his staff. The men in John Hodge's Flight Control Division found it "a hell of a great challenge and to a man they wanted to press on as soon as possible." One of them suddenly said, "Why don't we handle it as if one of the spacecraft were a Mercury-type and the other a Gemini-type spacecraft?" Mercury controllers at the tracking stations observed data on their consoles, summarized it, and forwarded the result by teletype to Mercury Control Center. Gemini VII could be handled that way while it served as a passive target for Gemini VI. For Gemini missions, the stations were fitted with computer communications processors. As the spacecraft passed overhead, the processors interrogated the appropriate systems for specific data, which were automatically transmitted to Mission Control. Gemini VI, the active partner in the rendezvous, would be controlled by the more sophisticated system. With this as a basis, an operational mode was laid out.

After Gemini VII lifted off, flight control would be carried out in the normal manner while the pad was being prepared for the second launch. Once the flight controllers were sure the orbiting spacecraft was operating properly, Mission Control would concentrate on Schirra and Stafford in their spacecraft, and the tracking network would watch Gemini VII, record data, and send information by teletype to the Houston controllers. This mode would continue until the complicated rendezvous mission ended and Gemini VI-A (so called to distinguish it from the originally planned mission whose objective had been rendezvous with Agena) returned to Earth. Then Gemini VII would become the focus of communications again. Kraft was soon convinced that the operation could be carried out safely. He told his Mission Planning and Analysis Division to set up the flight plan so the second launch could take place as soon as the pad was ready."
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:23 pm

Will Endevour have the STS-126 payload installed when it's standing by?
And, is there any sort of autoland capability so if they abandon a shuttle at Hubble or the station they can try to land it unmanned?
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:53 pm



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 19):
Will Endevour have the STS-126 payload installed when it's standing by?
And, is there any sort of autoland capability so if they abandon a shuttle at Hubble or the station they can try to land it unmanned?

No and yes.

The 126 payload will be installed at Pad A after Endeavour rolls around from Pad B after LON is stood-down, that's why 126 doesn't launch until November.

Autoland requires the crew to implement some "hot wiring" for either destructive de-orbit or attempted unmanned landing, depending on the serverity of the problem.
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:39 am



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 10):
I was wondering whether they can stay fueled up on the pad for extended amounts of time, as I believe they usually fuel them right before the launch.

Not really. The fuels boil off and have to be replenished.

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 19):
And, is there any sort of autoland capability so if they abandon a shuttle at Hubble or the station they can try to land it unmanned?

Yes, sure can be done. As was stated, the crew has to install a cable from the space/ground transceiver to the flight controls.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-3xx#Remote_Control_Orbiter

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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:10 am



Quoting Gigneil (Reply 21):
The fuels boil off and have to be replenished.

The downside of cryogenic fuels. Interestingly, the Soviet R-7 (which, in a modified form, is still going strong as the launch vehicle for the Soyuz capsules) was originally designed as an ICBM, but failed at that task due the fact that since it used cryogenic fuels, it couldn't be kept at the ready for any long period of time, something necessary for an ICBM. So it just went on to become the most-used space booster in history.

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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:18 pm

Thanks for the link Gigneil.
It would be interesting to see if NASA decided to go ahead with the Hubble job if launch damage required Atlantis to be abandoned. That kind of distraction you definitely wouldn't need while working on the telescope, but there wouldn't be any hard reason not to get the job done while waiting for your ride.
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:34 pm



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 23):
It would be interesting to see if NASA decided to go ahead with the Hubble job if launch damage required Atlantis to be abandoned. That kind of distraction you definitely wouldn't need while working on the telescope, but there wouldn't be any hard reason not to get the job done while waiting for your ride.

No. They'll go into emergency mode: minimum power use, etc., to stretch consumables as long as possible (in case the LON Shuttle can't launch on time for whatever reason.)

EVAs waste a lot of O2, so no spacewalks until transfer to the LON Shuttle.
 
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RE: Two Shuttles Prepped For Launch At Once - Oct 2008

Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:10 pm



Quoting Thorny (Reply 24):
hey'll go into emergency mode: minimum power use, etc., to stretch consumables as long as possible

That would have been obvious if I'd bothered to think about it. But, thinking before I type has never been one of my handicaps.
I hope Endevour's rescue mission remains in the "what if" category. A friend of mine is pretty excited about the ACS being repaired, although, I'm not exactly sure what it can do that WFC3 won't be able to do better. WFC3's infrared and ultraviolet channels overlap so it can cover three octaves in much greater resolution than the ACS or NICMOS, although it doesn't go as far into the infrared as NICMOS. I get the feeling that WFC3 and COS will be getting most of the time.
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