Post-Flight Payload Operations

The post-flight payload processing flow begins with a return of the Orbiter to earth. After a KSC landing and crew egress, the Orbiter is towed to the OPF for safing and payload removal. Payload bay environmental limits are maintained by exterior units that are attached while the Orbiter is on the landing strip. Normal removal of individual flight experiments occurs in the O&C Building approximately 5 days after landing. Landing at a secondary or contingency site other than KSC requires special payload processing planning.

Various options are available to meet special payload access requirements. These include removal of small items from the middeck and removal of biological specimens from the Spacelab module by an ingress team prior to towing the Orbiter to the OPF. Other time-critical items in the payload bay may be removed in the OPF about 2 days after landing.

In the OPF, the Spacelab is removed from the payload bay and placed into the canister/transporter for return to the O&C Building. In the O&C Building, the integration process is basically reversed, reducing the payload into separate elements and finally into individual experiments. Special payload-handling procedures have been developed in the event of a landing at a secondary or contingency landing site. Any special access or removal requirements for your experiment at such a site should be discussed with your mission manager.

  1. Arrival and Receiving
  2. Preparation and Staging
  3. Experiment Integration
  4. Spacelab Integration
  5. CITE Testing
  6. Transport to OPF
  7. Orbiter Integration
  8. OPF-to-VAB Transfer
  9. Assembly and Rollout
  10. Launch Pad Operations
  11. Launch and Mission
  12. Post-Flight Payload Operations

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Last Updated Friday September 1 14:40:12 EDT 1995
Tom Nguyen (
Ernest Cody (
Jim Dumoulin (