The space shuttle Endeavour is returning to active duty status joining the other orbiters Discovery and Atlantis. After putting in 900,000 man-hours to refurbish and update her systems, technicians turned on the electrical power to Endeavour for the first time today.
NASA regularly schedules individual shuttles for major modification periods. A major modification period is a two year long upgrade program in which a given shuttle has its major systems upgraded and new technologies incorporated. Endeavour’s planned major modification period began in late 2003. To date, eighty-five of the planned 124 modifications have been completed. The modifications included return-to-flight mandated changes, inspection of 150 miles of wiring, and bonding more than 1,000 thermal protection system tiles.
The cockpit now sports an advanced digital display system that replaces the myriad of screens, gauges and dials that used to make up the cockpit environment. A Global Positioning System (GPS) system to improve the shuttle's landing capability was also installed. It will allow Endeavour to make a landing at any runway long enough to handle the shuttle. The previous system only allowed for landings at military bases.
Endeavour's previous modification was completed in March 1997. Endeavour is beginning 10-12 months of launch processing and power-up testing for a future flight, possibly late next year.
Visit NASA's Space Shuttle Program on the Web For the latest information on the Space Shuttle.
Source: NASA Press Release