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March 15, 1994 (Phone: 202/358-1778) RELEASE: 94-44 SPACE SHUTTLE MODIFICATION WORK TO CONTINUE AT PALMDALE NASA Space Shuttle Director Tom Utsman today announced that the agency's intent is to accomplish all major modification work on the Space Shuttle fleet at Rockwell International's facility in Palmdale, Calif. In arriving at this decision, Utsman cited several factors including the expanding requirements associated with the Russian cooperative effort, the ability to support future operations of the international Space Station and the desire to continue to prelaunch process the Shuttle orbiters for flight at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., in the most efficient manner possible. "After evaluating the location for performing major modifications to the Space Shuttle orbiters, I believe the best policy is to continue to perform these modifications at the Palmdale facilities. This will allow the KSC team to concentrate all its efforts on the safe and efficient Shuttle vehicle prelaunch processing," said Utsman. "This decision will allow the Shuttle orbiter major modification effort to be performed by approximately 300 workers located at Palmdale while the 7,000 KSC member team can concentrate their efforts on safe and efficient vehicle processing," Utsman said. Space Shuttle Atlantis, undergoing major modification work at Palmdale to allow it to dock with the Mir Space Station, is scheduled to return to KSC in June in preparation for the STS-66
mission this fall. Following that mission, Atlantis will fly the first docking mission with Mir on Shuttle Mission STS-71, scheduled for launch in June 1995. Future major modification work scheduled at Palmdale will include preparing a second orbiter -- Discovery -- to have the ability to dock with the Mir Space Station so that it can help support the first phase of the new Russian cooperative effort. - more -2Phase One consists of up to 10 Space Shuttle-Mir missions including rendezvous, docking and crew transfers between 1995 and 1997. The Space Shuttles will assist with crew exchange, resupply and payload activities for Mir. Discovery also is scheduled to have installed the initial work associated with the Multifunctional Electronic Display System (MEDS), a 5th cryogenic tank set, the same Mir modifications done to Atlantis so that Discovery can support Phase One cooperative efforts and have the removal of the internal airlock and installation of a new external airlock to support the future international Space Station. The decision to continue major modification work at Palmdale and make a second orbiter capable of Mir docking will have a slight impact on the near-term Shuttle manifest. Space Shuttle Columbia, currently in orbit on the STS-62 mission and next in line for major modification work, will be sent to Palmdale following its next mission, the STS-65 mission. The STS-67/ASTRO-2 mission, originally scheduled for Columbia in December 1994, will be flown aboard Endeavour in early January 1995. Columbia is expected to arrive at Palmdale in September 1994 with work projected to last 7 to 8 months. Among the improvements scheduled for Columbia is the initial work associated with the MEDS system. Discovery will be sent to Palmdale following the STS-70 mission. It is expected to arrive at Palmdale in September 1995 where it will remain for 7 to 8 months. Following modification, it
will fly a docking mission with Mir on Shuttle Mission STS-79 in June 1996. To obtain the maximum efficiency while the modification work is underway, normal inspections and evaluations associated with the Orbiter Modification Down Period (OMDP) also will be performed at Palmdale. Each orbiter is required to go through an OMDP about every 3 years so that technicians can make structural evaluations on the various Shuttle systems. - end -