STS -118 (English Space Transportation System) is the mission name for the 20th flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour ( OV -105 ) from NASA. It was the space shuttle mission 119 and after nearly five -year hiatus, the first flight of this orbiter due to the misfortune of Columbia in February 2003 (STS- 107). It was the last flight of a Spacehab module. STS -118 was launched on 8 August 2007.


  • Scott Kelly ( second space flight), Commander
  • Charles Hobaugh ( second space flight), Pilot
  • Barbara Morgan ( 1 space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • Richard Mastracchio ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Tracy Caldwell ( first space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • Dafydd Williams ( second space flight), Mission Specialist (CSA / Canada)
  • Alvin Drew ( first space flight), Mission Specialist

Mission overview

The Endeavour transported the S5 - carrier to the International Space Station (ISS). This lattice structure has been assembled by astronauts during a spacewalk.

In addition to the Spacehab module 2.2 tons of equipment were delivered. Conversely, 1.8 tonnes of equipment no longer required and completed experiments were brought back to earth.

During four exits construction and maintenance work on the exterior of the ISS were carried out.

For the first time the new energy transfer system was used by the Endeavour. By SSPTS the orbiter receives during mating power from the space station and can thus prolong its residence time.

This mission also carried the so-called " Teacher in Space Project ", which had been planned for STS -51 -L, but by the loss of the space shuttle Challenger ended in a tragic accident. Barbara Morgan was the first teacher from space lessons.


Shortly after the end of the last mission of the Endeavour (STS -113 ), the Space Shuttle on 7 December 2002 was moved to the Orbiter Processing Facility and started the follow-up. The heat shield had 64 strikes, 13 of which were greater than two and a half centimeters, which is a normal value.

Originally, the Endeavour was supposed to start in May 2003 on the STS -115 mission, but after the disaster of the Columbia in February 2003, NASA decided to modernize the space shuttle and overtake. During this Orbiter Major Modification Endeavour was provided in December 2003 as the final orbiter with a so-called glass cockpit that replaces the three old monochrome CRTs through nine graphics-capable multi-function displays. In addition, however, larger work on all systems of the shuttle were carried out. In addition, the new SSPTS energy transfer system (Station -to- Shuttle Power Transfer System) has been installed, the electrical power transfers from the space station on Endeavour. Thus, the possible coupling time is extended by 20 percent. In addition, the landing system TACAN was replaced by the GPS system. This allows the ferry to land on any suitable runway which is 2.3 kilometers long and 40 meters wide. A total of 194 changes were made during the three- year renovation period.

End of January 2007, the three main engines were installed in the Endeavour. In February, the two OMS engines ( Orbital Maneuvering System) followed. On April 6, came the external tank for STS -118, the ET- 117 in Florida. After it was initially planned so that the damaged by a storm tank of the previous mission, STS -117 to replace, but this was eventually repaired, and STS -118 was the tank.

To 10 April 2007 - as well as at the Atlantis - expanded all three main engines to test for contaminants. Such impurities were not found; after a pump had been changed yet, all three engines were reinstalled on April 27. From 24 April to 12 June, the two solid rocket boosters ( boosters) has been built; on June 17, the outer tank between the two booster was mounted.

After the completion of preparations and replacing a Wärmeisoliermatte at the rear of the orbiter Endeavour on July 2 of the Orbiter Processing Facility to the assembly hall ( Vehicle Assembly Building ) was rolled. The next day the Endeavour was connected with the boosters and the external tank. From 9 to 11 July, the payload canister with the Spacehab, S5 and ESP -3 was inserted into the payload bay.

In preparation for the next day beginning Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, short TCDT, the team met on July 16 a at Kennedy Space Center (KSC ). During this two-day exercise, the crew simulated the final hours of the countdown. In addition, the escape from the launch pad was rehearsed in a dangerous situation. The TCDT ended with a simulated launch abort for the crew and the control team. Subsequently, the crew flew back to Houston.

On 25 and 26 July was the Flight Readiness Review held, the Special Air decrease, it was decided in that all systems are ready to go. It was also the tentative start date, August 7, confirmed as first boot option. At the subsequent press conference, William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Director for Space Operations stated that there had been on a computer that will be flown with the Endeavour to the space station, the device manufacturer sabotage. The case was being investigated and the unit has been repaired to the start.

Speaking at a regular density test set technician determines July 29 that either the Spacehab or the team lost cabin pressure. In further tests, the pressure loss was found to be up to ten times higher than allowed. After two days of an incorrectly mounted supply hose has been identified as the cause. On July 31, it was found that still escaped air. One of the two pressure relief valves in the crew cabin was not working correctly - it was exchanged on August 2 by a member of the Atlantis. The subsequent pressure tests were all successful.

Following a conference held on KSC, NASA managers declared on 3 August that due to unforeseen repairs all reserve time is used up. That's why you 've decided to start a 24-hour shift on the 8th August. This would give the engineers sufficient time for preparations. A few hours later came the seven -member crew on a space center. On August 5, all corresponding sections ( crew cab, connecting tunnels, Spacehab ) passed a four-hour pressure test.

Mission History


The countdown for the mission began on August 6 at 0:00 UTC in the T-43 hour mark. Kathy Winters, with primary responsibility for five years USAF meteorologist for the shuttle launches, explained that lay the probability of good weather at 70 percent for the launch day. Only occasionally are expected rain. The next day, NASA announced that the probability of a shuttle launch had risen to 80 percent. In addition, Laura Bush telephoned the wife of the U.S. president, Barbara Morgan and wished her a good mission.

The first visible sign that the launch would take place in a few hours, was the swinging back of the RSS service platform ( Rotating Service Structure) in their park position. This 120 ° rotation began as scheduled on August 8 at 1:00 UTC and lasted 45 minutes. At 12:11 UTC began three hours filling of large outdoor tank initially with liquid hydrogen into the lower portion and 40 minutes later with liquid oxygen in the top section of the tank.

At 18:47 UTC, the team was driven by the crew's quarters to the launch pad, where she arrived a quarter of an hour later. After they had driven to the elevator on the 59- meter level, the astronauts were prepared to get started. At 21:07 UTC, a crack was found on the insulating foam on the external tank through the Ice team, but it has been reported that this plan is not a danger. Later, at 20:52 UTC, a problem with the sensors of the hatch was found when closing the hatch. The sensors should indicate if the hatch is closed. 21:20 UTC announced the white room crew, that the problem was solved with the sensors of the hatch and then left the launch pad. In addition, all emergency landing reported good weather.

The Endeavour launched as planned at 22:36 UTC under excellent weather conditions. After burning the three main engines of the external tank was dropped and photographed by the astronauts in order to discover and damages. Later, the payload bay doors were opened.

At a subsequent press conference informed the NASA manager for the Space Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said that the video footage of the tank camera had shown that four small pieces were chipped off the foam. But this was done at a non-critical time.

Inspection and coupling

On the second flight day (9 August ) was, as usual, since STS -114, the heat shield is checked. For this, the OBSS - Inspektionsarm was attached to the robotic arm of the orbiter and then examines the most vulnerable areas. One after another the right wing, the nose and the left wing were sampled.

During the day, NASA announced that a total of nine pieces of foam broke from the external tank during the launch of Endeavour. A first film and photo analysis showed that only three parts would have taken the ferry. However, there were no other signs of damage. The three fragments struck the orbiter 24, 58 and 173 seconds after launch. All parts were so small that they could not do any serious damage.

After two days of persecution, the Endeavour had the ISS caught on 10 August (3rd day of flying ) and coupled at 18:02 UTC on. Previously, the 43 -year-old shuttle commander Scott Kelly had positioned the U.S. Space Shuttle in 180 meters distance to the space station. While both spacecraft flew over the Atlantic, led the Endeavour the obligatory " Flip- reverse maneuver" by. These ten minutes took the ISS crew to photograph the entire underside of the orbiter with high resolution cameras and uncover as possible smallest damage to the heat shield.

While the tightness tests were performed, activated Mission Specialist Tracy Caldwell the robot arm of the orbiter and raised the S5 element from the cargo bay. After two hours after the arrival of the hatches were opened and the two teams had welcomed S5 was handed over to the ISS robotic arm that kept it to assembly the next day.

At 21:17 UTC, the new SSPTS energy transfer system (Station -to- Shuttle Power Transfer System) was successfully put into operation for the first time. The system developed by Boeing in the past four years SSPTS puts the orbiter in a position to purchase electricity from the ISS. Thus, a docked ferry, reduce their consumption of limited supplies of water and oxygen, the fuel cells need to produce the current to a minimum and thus increase the coupling time by up to four days. For NASA, the use of SSPTS to be able to let the shuttle astronauts work on station longer and the remaining structure of the U.S. space shuttle flights means use them optimally. The SSPTS controls the 120 volts of the ISS down to the 28 volts of the orbiter. The ferry can purchase a maximum of eight kilowatts from the space station.

The mission specialists Rick Mastracchio and Dave Williams went at the end of the working day in the Quest airlock and stayed there. During this so-called Campout they breathed pure oxygen low pressure to prepare for their first spacewalk (EVA ) on the following day.

As NASA announced on the same day, the first evaluation of the close-ups sparked the earth would have provided evidence of possible damage to the underside of the orbiter. A white furrow has been discovered in the vicinity of the door of the right main landing gear. This differs significantly from the other black tiles from and is nine times six inches tall. The site is located one and a half meters behind the door and could be caused by a piece of ice that dissolved during ascent from the fuel tank and the Endeavour have met 58 seconds after the start. The astronauts were instructed to examine the place on August 12 in detail with the OBSS.

Work on the ISS

The fourth flight day (August 11 ) was dominated by the first EVA of the mission, which began at 16:28 UTC. Rick Mastracchio and his Canadian colleague Dave Williams assembled the S5 segment to the starboard side of the station. Thus, the astronauts could work in peace, the solar panels of the S4 - module for the duration of the works were blocked. In addition, the radiator was retracted and secured to bring the module during the next mission (STS -120) to its final place of P6. After 6 hours and 17 minutes ended the excursion at 22:45 UTC.

Of initially unknown reasons dropped during this EVA - similar to the previous emission - the main computer in the U.S. portion of the station. The replacement computer immediately took over the role of the C & C Computers ( Command and Control). The third computer system, which ran in the waiting mode until then, been "activated" and set up as a new replacement computer. A few hours later the main unit could be made ​​to run again. The problem was caused by a wrong command.

August 12th (fifth flight day ) was devoted to a re-inspection of the heat shield - considered by NASA as a " Focused Inspection". Overall, Tracy Caldwell and Barbara Morgan examined along with Scott Kelly five areas of the heat shield that are classified as safe by engineers not unique. Apart from damage to all areas could be classified as safely. In addition, the Russian -board computer that was lost during the last mission was replaced. The fourth and final voltage converter of the SSPTS was activated for the first time. He worked as the other three properly. Therefore, the connection could it be agreed to extend the mission by three days and a fourth exit.

Over the entire day supplies were loaded from the Spacehab in the ISS of the team. In the evening, Richard Mastracchio and Dafydd Williams went into the airlock Quest and conducted its second campout.

On the sixth mission day, August 13, the second exit took place. Thereby Mastracchio and Williams exchanged a gyroscope which is capable of controlling the station. The defective equipment, that was a year ago failed, was attached to the ESP - 2 platform and will be placed with one of the next shuttle missions to Earth. In addition, the site has been prepared, in which the platform ESP 3 was mounted on the following day. The EVA lasted 6 hours and 28 minutes and was on schedule at 22:00 UTC over.

In the station, meanwhile, work continued on the Russian computer and transport activities. Overnight, the newly installed gyroscope was booted, it works flawlessly.

The seventh flight day (August 14 ) provided for the installation of ESP -3. It has been lifted with the Canadarm from the Space Shuttle payload bay of the orbiter and passed to the Canadarm2, the space station. This element then attached to the grid structure P3. But no spacewalk was needed. In addition, the Zarya module orbited at this day to 50,000 times the earth.

In addition, Barbara Morgan gave a 30-minute long lesson. They answered questions that were asked of students from the Discovery Center of Idaho ( Discovery Center of Idaho) in the U.S. state of Idaho. There are two more scheduled school hours. Also celebrated her 38th birthday Tracy Caldwell. After that Mastracchio and ISS Expedition 15 member Clay Anderson went into the airlock, to perform a campout.

On the eighth day of flying (August 15 ) was the third spacewalk of the program. Mastracchio and Clay Anderson began its withdrawal at 14:37 UTC. The two astronauts were making preparations for the displacement of P6, which is for the next mission (STS -120 ) is provided. During the EVA a SASA antenna ( S-band Antenna Structural Assembly) was moved from P6 to P1 and a transponder away. Moreover, the two CETA platforms drove from the larboard to the starboard side of the ISS. Both " dropouts " came with their tasks cope very well and were soon their work ahead of schedule. Counter 18:55 UTC shared with NASA that the EVA will be canceled glove because of a crack in the upper layer of Mastracchios must. This came out back in the airlock to the safe side to connect with the life support systems of the station, while Anderson continued to work for another hour. At 20:05 UTC, they finished together the 5 hours and 28 minutes long exit. Except for the dismantling of the MISSE experiment all tasks could be done. The cause of the crack in Mastracchios glove a sharp edge on a ISS component was determined after landing.

On the ninth day of flying (August 16 ), the second lesson of Barbara Morgan took place, which she performed together with Alvin Drew. This time Morgan spoke to students of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria ( Virginia). Later, they also spoke about problems and a resulting delay over amateur radio ( ARISS project) to students of the McCall - Donnelly School District in Idaho.

In addition, NASA announced that the astronauts had discovered shortly after getting a small damage on one of the cockpit windows. During the sleep period, the outer pane of the window of the commander had been hit on the left side of the Endeavour of a tiny portion of space debris or micrometeorites. After the sparked the earth photos of a millimeter deep strike were tested by technicians told NASA that the crew had not endangered and the mission will continue.

The rest of the day was used for the preparation of the fourth exit and transfer tasks. In addition, the astronauts had for the first time at the mission for a longer period of time.

The August 17th ( tenth day of flying ) was characterized by transfer functions, press conferences and the preparation for the final withdrawal of the mission. During the day, NASA's Endeavour announced, probably already on 21 August to leave so landing a day earlier than planned. This was due to Hurricane Dean, which could possibly necessitate a closure of the flight control center for a few days.

At the beginning of the eleventh flight day (August 18 ) announced by NASA that the fourth EVA had been reduced by two to four and a half hours. Thus, it is possible to close the hatches between Shuttle and ISS directly after the EVA and undock already on the twelfth mission day.

During the fourth field operations, an antenna was installed, and four screws tightened a clamp successfully with an attached already on the Z1 segment S- band antenna by Dave Williams and Clay Anderson. Moreover, a holder for the OBSS - Inspektionsarm was placed on top of the S1 segment, so that it can be deposited in the meantime at the end of the STS- 123- mission there ( the volume of the load in the subsequent STS- 124 is too large to take the OBSS ). In addition, the MISSE experiment was salvaged and stored on the earth in the Endeavour to return. The withdrawal, which was planned by NASA in advance in the event of a mission extension, lasted 5 hours and 2 minutes. Because of the two-hour shortening of the final mounting some shields against micrometeorites had to be postponed. These plates had to be removed during the mission STS -117 Unity and Destiny to install a hydrogen valve, but then could not fix properly. Since then, they are only temporarily locked on by straps and should be tightened at a later exit.

Because of the same day pending closing of hatches, the traditional farewell ceremony of the ten astronauts to 20:45 UTC fell out only briefly. 25 minutes later, at 21:10 UTC, the hatch was locked to the ISS.


After undocking on 19 August ( twelfth day of flying ) at 11:56 UTC the Endeavour away from the ISS without fly around this again. In this way, the crew got some free time. Afterwards, the crew conducted a final review of the heat shield. With the OBSS the most stressed during the landing areas were sampled for several hours.

NASA announced that they wanted to use only the two landing opportunities for Florida on August 21. Hurricane Dean hold on to Mexico, so there is no risk of having to evacuate the air traffic control in Texas. This results in reduced time pressure to land as possible to the 14th day of flying.

On the 13th flight day (August 20 ) began preparations for landing. In the evening, Houston could give the green light for the landing - the evaluation of the OBSS data had shown no signs of further damage to the heat shield. It was decided to not use the landing facilities in Edwards. The base was manned nevertheless in the event of a possible change in the weather to provide a fallback option.

The 14th and final flight day (August 21 ) began with the closing of the Spacehab and stowing the unimportant items for landing. 15:07 UTC shared with the control center of the occupation that it intends to use the first landing opportunity at KSC during orbit 201. With the brake ignition of the two OMS engines, the landing maneuver was initiated at 15:25 UTC. 16:32 UTC sat on the Endeavour Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

After the team had left the orbiter and has undergone initial medical examination, peer-reviewed six of the seven astronauts about an hour after landing, the outer skin of the Endeavour. The only exception Barbara Morgan, who still had problems with their sense of balance. The damage to the corrupted at startup heat tile had hardly increased during landing.

After the final work, the Endeavour was towed to the Orbiter Processing Facility, where it is prepared for their next space flight (STS- 123).

In the follow-up of the orbiter, it was found that the Endeavour was taken during the flight not only one of the cockpit windows of a micro- meteorites: one week after landing technicians discovered two strikes on the radiators of the cargo bay doors. The latter were not damaged. A similar damage pointed to the Atlantis, a year earlier than they returned from their mission STS -115.

Damage to the heat shield

During the start burst on the outer tank from multiple pieces of foam, which resulted in damage to the heat shield. During the so-called Focused Inspections on the fifth flight day (August 12 ) was investigated in more detail how deep the impact had damaged the 19 square centimeter area and whether a repair is necessary. The detailed photographs showed that the damage was enough to aluminum structure of the orbiter down. A small area of two and a half inches long and a half inch width was unprotected.

The image analyzes had also shown that the impact was caused by insulating foam and not ice, as first thought. A large piece of apple had been released from a fuel line of the outer tank, collided with a retaining strut broke into several pieces and eventually hit the Endeavour.

On August 19, NASA announced that it was decided not to repair the Endeavour and landing, despite the damage. This decision was preceded by several days of testing and analysis on the ground. With the help of laser scanning data of the OBSS it was possible to make a three-dimensional reconstruction of the damaged heat shield area. The 3 -D tile model went through several tests in the plasma laboratory of the Johnson Space Center. In addition, engineers from the Ames Research Center examined with computer programs, the effects of the plasma during re-entry to the damaged tile area. The results were checked by technicians of the Langley Research Center.

During reentry, the damage had hardly increased. The structure of the orbiter was not damaged.