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Endeavour Powered Up, Orbiter Readies for Final Power Down
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by Mike Killian Just 3 weeks after space shuttle Discovery left Florida for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, sister orbiter Endeavour is readying for one final power up this week – an event which, when the plug is pulled, will mark the final power down of NASA’s space shuttle program.  

Nearly a year after launching on her last mission, STS-134, Endeavour is on the brink of reaching a “point-of-no-return” in her retirement transition.  Once the vehicle’s cooling systems are drained of all their fluids, Endeavour will not be capable of powering up ever again.  All three of NASA’s orbiters had to be powered up throughout their retirement transitions in order to allow technicians to open and close vents and other access points to remove various hazards and toxins such as hypergols, fuels, oxidizers, and ammonia (among others) from the orbiters before they could safely be put on display.  Technicians must ”de-service” various systems, sometimes even removing systems and hardware all together, in an effort to ensure that there be no chance of any leaks or out-gassing that could be hazardous to the public while the orbiters are on display.

“Since wheel stop we have completed end state safing, decontamination of orbital maneuvering system pods and forward reaction control system, removal of all hazardous commodities, removal of encrypted hardware and hardware which has potential use on future programs,” said Bart Pannullo, NASA Transition and Retirement Vehicle Manager in an emailed statement.  ”Our next major milestones are to complete final power down, close the payload bay doors and configure the vehicle to meet display site and ferry flight requirements.”  Read More and See Photos...

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