Preparation of Vertically Processed payloads for Flight


Vertically processed payloads are normally received at one of the following Payload Processing Facilities (PPFs): Buildings AT, AO, AM and Hangar S at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS); Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility No. 2 (SAEF-2), and the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) located in the KSC Industrial Area. (The latter two facilities function as either a PPF or a hazardous facility.) Normal PPF activities include the reassembly and checkout of payload elements and systems to assure a flight ready payload.

If hazardous operations are required, the payload or upper stage is moved to a Hazardous Processing Facility (HPF) where operations are conducted by the STS user with assistance by KSC.

An operation may be classified as hazardous by KSC Safety if it involves stored energy, materials, or an environment in which loss of control could result in injury to personnel or damage to equipment.

There are also commercial PPF and HPF capabilities located adjacent to KSC.

If no hazardous operations are necessary, the payload goes directly to the Vertical Processing Facility (VPF).

Processing of upper stages and payloads within the VPF will vary depending upon the type of payload and/or upper stage involved. The initial phase of VPF operations generally consists of receiving, inspecting, and installing the payload and/or upper stage into a Vertical Payload Handling Device (VPHD). Once all the payload elements which require a simulated Orbiter interface tests are installed in the VPHD, testing is conducted using Cargo Integration Test Equipment (CITE). This equipment simulated the appropriate Orbiter interfaces. Once the CITE testing is completed, post-CITE operations may be performed to close out the payloads in preparation for moving in the canister/transporter to the pad.

At this point, the Orbiter has already been through the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) where share-the-flight payloads such as GetAway Specials (GAS) or a horizontally processed payload has be installed in the payload bay. The Orbiter is them moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where it is mated with the External Tank (ET) and Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), then moved to the pad on the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP).

The canister is portioned under the Rotating Service Structure (RSS), hoisted to the proper elevation, locked into place against the Payload Changeout Room (PCR) of the RSS. The Payload Ground Handling Mechanism (PGHM) then removes the payloads from the canister, retracts into the PCR, and installs them into the Orbiter after the canister and transporter have been removed and the RSS positioned against the Orbiter. Each payload is now connected to the appropriate Orbiter interface. Verification testing, final checkout, and servicing are then conducted.

Preparation of Vertically Processed payloads for Flight
  1. Arrival and Receiving
  2. Payload Preparation
  3. Payload Hazardous Processing
  4. Upper Stage Processing (OMV, IUS, TOS, PAM)
  5. Payload Integration & CITE Testing
  6. Orbiter Operations
  7. VPF-to-Pad Operations
  8. RSS & PCR Operations
  9. Orbiter Intergration
  10. Launch & Mission
  11. Postlanding Operations

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Last Updated Friday September 1 14:40:16 EDT 1995
Tom Nguyen (
Ernest Cody (
Jim Dumoulin (