NASA Evaluating STS-335 "Launch on Need" Mission per

NASA Evaluating STS-335 "Launch on Need" Mission per

A “Launch-on-Need” (LON) shuttle mission after what is currently scheduled as the final space shuttle launch is under evaluation by NASA according to the website Currently the last shuttle mission is STS-133. The additional mission is designated either STS-135 LON or STS-335 according to the report.

Such a mission would provide a rescue capability should STS-133 suffer damage that would prevent the crew from using it for the flight back to the Earth and they must use the ISS as a “safe haven” while awaiting a rescue flight. ISS crews have Soyuz spacecraft available to take them back to Earth in an emergency, but there are only enough seats for the ISS crewmembers, not a shuttle crew.

STS-133 is a utilization flight to the ISS. STS-134 is scheduled to take the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station and originally was to have followed STS-133. NASA switched places for those last two flights (see NASA’s list of upcoming ISS missions).

STS-133 is currently scheduled for launch on September 16, 2010. NASA announced the six-person STS-133 crew last month. states that the STS-335 mission would launch in December 2010 if it were needed.

Only six shuttle flights formally remain on NASA’s schedule:

  • STS-129, Atlantis, Nov. 12, 2009, ELC 1 and ELC 2
  • STS-130, Endeavour, Feb. 4, 2010, Tranquility Node 3 and Cupola
  • STS-131, Discovery, Mar. 18, 2010, MPLM and LMC
  • STS-132, Atlantis, May 14, 2010, ICC and MRM1
  • STS-134, Endeavour, July 29, 2010, AMS and ELC 3
  • STS-133, Discovery, Sept. 16, 2010, MPLM and ELC 4

ELC = Express Logistics Carrier
MPLM = MultiPurpose Logistics Module
LMC = Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier
MRM = Mini Research Module

The Augustine committee on the future of the human space flight program concluded in its summary report that a more prudent schedule would assume that the remaining flights are “likely to stretch into the second quarter of 2011.”

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