Payload processing at KSC hit a record high in the past fiscal year, with
eight Space Station components prepared for first flight, a feat not likely
to be soon duplicated.

“There has never been a year of activity like the last 12 months,” said Dave
Bethay, Boeing director of ISS Operations.

The processing utilized every skill in NASA and Boeing concerned with
payload processing, including support from the design centers, Marshall
Space Flight Center, Huntington Beach, Canoga Park and the program
management center in Houston. The year-long undertaking involved hundreds
of KSC workers, with the support of thousands across the country. The
components – the Z1 truss, the P6 truss, the U.S. Lab Destiny, the Canadian
robotic arm, three Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, and the Joint Airlock
Module (named Quest) – underwent final assembly, system level qualification
testing, acceptance testing and pre-flight preparations.

“Our payload processing team has once again proven that no challenge is too
large or too complex,” said Bruce Melnick, Boeing vice president and senior
site executive for Florida Operations. “This outstanding achievement would
not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of every
member of the team whether they worked in Florida, California, Huntsville or
elsewhere. As we move forward with ISS assembly, this team will prove, again
and again, how valuable their contribution is to the safety of our
astronauts and the Human Space Flight Program.”
Requiring the most time for processing were the P6 truss and the Destiny

“Both are exceptionally complex with a requirement for very high
reliability,” said Bethay. “The P6 provides primary power and cooling for
the Station and includes the large solar wings. Destiny is the centerpiece
of the Station with command and control capabilities and a unique laboratory
for experiments.

“Yet each component brings something completely new to the program. P6 had
the solar array wings and thermal radiators; Destiny is the brains of the
station with a one-of-a-kind research facility; the Canadian Robotic arm is
a wonder of new technology; and Quest needed to provide access to space for
both U.S. and Russian crew members utilizing their own space suits.”

The MPLMs presented their own challenge. They were built to deliver racks of
equipment, supplies and experiments to the Space Station. On orbit, the
racks can be floated through the MPLM and onto the Station, and vice versa.
On Earth, a different method is needed. To easily move the supplies into and
out of the modules, Boeing engineers designed and built a rack insertion
device. Controlled remotely, the device’s robot-like arm grasps the racks
and moves them into the modules, placing the racks along the module walls.

“Exercising new processes for cargo and MPLM processing was challenging
enough; doing two the first time through added to the challenge,” said Mark
Hutchins, Boeing resupply/return technical lead. “The people made the
difference. We’re now challenging ourselves. Process improvement
initiatives are going full throttle.”

At this date, missions targeted for 2002 involve delivery of six elements to
the Space Station, including three trusses and the Mobile Base System that
joins the Canadarm2 as part of the Mobile Servicing System. Challenges for
the processing team, according to Hutchins, range from use of late-access
equipment in the Payload Changeout Room at the pad, and a series of tests on
a Shuttle convoy vehicle assuring it works properly to protect cold science
returning from the Space Station.