It was Launch Day – without the fire and rumble – this week at the Kennedy Space Center.
The crew of STS-130 streaked in from Houston on their supersonic T-38’s – donned their Launch and re-entry – or pumpkin suits – and then when through the motions of launch day. The dress rehearsal is called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. The exercise ends with a simulated launch pad abort – and later a spin in an armored personnel carrier.
As for the vehicle that will take them to space – Endeavour is doing fine – although the piece of the space station that sits in her trunk – the Tranquility node – is still giving the shuttle team a mental workout. Cooling lines that carry ammonia failed a leak test a few weeks ago. The team is working to improve the hose design – while also beefing up and piecing together some smaller sections. They are calling the result “Frankenhose.” The shuttlers are still hoping for a February 7th launch.