Boeing Prepares Space Shuttle Atlantis For Final Mission


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Boeing Prepares Space Shuttle Atlantis For Final Mission

By Mike Mitchell

July 9, 2011 - Boeing engineers and technicians prepared Space Shuttle Atlantis and its payload for the program's final mission, which is underway after Friday’s launch from Kennedy Space Center. Weather condition had been poor but Friday’s weather held out for a late morning liftoff. Atlantis' may extended it mission from 12 day to 13 days.  

"Our teams are especially proud of the work Boeing has done to help prepare the payload for Atlantis' final journey," said Mike Kinslow, Mission STS-135 payload flow manager for Boeing. "We've remained focused on a safe, successful mission." 

Boeing's Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services team prepared the payload, including the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), which is filled with supplies and spare parts designed to sustain International Space Station (ISS) operations for several years. In addition, a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier, included in the payload bay, will return a failed ammonia pump for troubleshooting by Boeing. 

In preparing and processing the payload for launch, Boeing technicians and engineers modified six resupply stowage racks and the MPLM structure to carry additional cargo. Boeing added an aft end cone stowage frame to the MPLM to accommodate an additional 400 pounds of stowage. 

Boeing also developed and stowed upgraded waste-treatment tanks called the Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly (ARFTA). The current tanks had to regularly be returned to Earth on the space shuttle for refurbishment. The new AFRTA tanks do not require refurbishment and can be emptied by the crew. 

During its 32 missions, Atlantis deployed 14 satellites, docked with the Mir space station seven times and docked with the ISS 11 times. It was the fourth orbiter built as part of the shuttle program, which became a Boeing program in 1996 when the company purchased Rockwell International's aerospace and defense assets. 

Boeing also provided design support and assisted NASA and United Space Alliance, the space shuttle prime operations contractor, with ensuring the space shuttle was safe to fly for this final mission. 

"The shuttle is an amazing vehicle that has helped Boeing to attract, develop and retain an incredible workforce in Florida, Texas, California and elsewhere. They are the foundation of success for this remarkable program," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager of the Space Shuttle program. "There are very few programs that have spanned the amount of time that this one has, and it's amazing how many people have stuck with it -- in some cases, for their entire careers." 

Boeing is transitioning many members of its experienced shuttle workforce to the ISS and Commercial Crew Transportation System programs, as well as to preparations for NASA's future heavy-lift rocket. Boeing is NASA's prime contractor for the ISS and continues to work on a variety of projects to upgrade and enhance its capabilities.

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