Monday, January 11, 2010

Shuttle launch on track; NASA works on ISS cables

NASA has pushed back press briefings previewing the year's first shuttle mission, but officials say Endeavour's flight it is still on track for a Feb. 7 launch.

Analysts continue to assess a problem with cooling cables that will be connected between the outpost and a new module during one of the mission's spacewalks. The hoses experienced failures during pre-flight tests last week.

The issues will be discussed during what is expected to be a lengthy station program meeting Tuesday.

However, the problem is not significant enough for NASA to consider skipping to the next mission on the manifest, which is planned in March, and it might not force a launch delay.

Kennedy Space Center workers still plan to deliver the flight's primary payload -- the 33,000-pound Tranquility module and attached cupola -- to launch pad 39A early Friday.

Also unchanged: crew plans to visit the spaceport for three days of training, arriving Jan. 18, and senior management mission reviews scheduled Jan. 19-20 and Jan. 27,

A day of pre-flight press briefings scheduled this Friday has been pushed back to Jan. 29, just nine days before the launch.

Kyle Herring, a NASA spokesman at Johnson Space Center in Houston, said the change provided flexibility should managers this week decide on changes to the mission's content, though that may not happen. And he said the late date was primarily determined by the availability of the mission's six-person crew, led by George Zamka.

"We're not talking at all about a launch delay right now," said Herring.

Endeavour's mission is the first of the last five shuttle flights, which NASA hopes to fly by the end of September.

IMAGE NOTE: At Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 6, space shuttle Endeavour reached the end of its 3.4-mile journey, known as rollout, from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39A. The pad overlooks the Atlantic Ocean in the background. The primary payload for the STS-130 mission is the International Space Station's Node 3, Tranquility, a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the station's life support systems. Attached to one end of Tranquility is a cupola, a unique work area with six windows on its sides and one on top. Endeavour's STS-130 launch is targeted for 4:39 a.m. EST Feb. 7. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller

No comments: