Saturday, October 30, 2010

NASA works toward Wednesday launch as leak repair continues

NASA believes a shuttle engine will be properly pressurized by Sunday morning, allowing teams to start the launch countdown at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"Right now we look like we're on a good path to get there," said NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding. "We'll continue to track and monitor that work throughout the day and the night to make sure that we can get there."

Discovery's launch from Kennedy Space Center is now targeted for 3:52 p.m. Wednesday.

The launch of Discovery's final flight had been planned Monday, but a helium gas line leaked during pressurization of the shuttle's main propulsion system and orbital engines overnight Thursday.

Managers initially thought the repair could be completed in time to start the countdown today and launch Tuesday. But as the work progressed, teams realized that it would take more time to reconfigure some valves, vent a tank and perform additional leak checks, extending the timeline to repressurize the system.

Technicians have replaced couplings on devices that connect the leaking helium line to the back of the Orbital Maneuvering System pod on the right side of Discovery's tail fin. Initial leak checks have gone well.

The slip to Wednesday gives NASA four opportunities to launch by Nov. 7, after which the mission would be delayed until at least early December because of thermal conditions on the International Space Station and the departure of several station crew members.

There's a 70 percent chance of favorable launch weather on Wednesday. Read the forecast here.


Anonymous said...

Well, that fixes all of the complaining about launching on voting day.

Anonymous said...

With all the "leaks" occurring, looks doubtful it will ever see orbit, might also be because NASA is cutting corners again, wish the crew a safe journey.