Friday, November 05, 2010

NASA hopes to repair gas leak in time for Monday launch

NASA managers are meeting this hour to discuss plans to repair a hydrogen gas leak in time to launch Discovery on Monday, the last day of an eight-day launch window.

If possible, Discovery would attempt to launch at 12:53 p.m. Monday.

If not, the next earliest attempt would be at 4:05 a.m. Nov. 30, the opening of a window of night launches that extends through Dec. 6.

Kennedy Space Center launch teams have been draining the shuttle's external tank of propellant since a significant leak of hydrogen gas was detected at a line that vents the gas from the tank to a flare stack.

Today's launch attempt was officially scrubbed at 8:11 a.m., a little over two hours after the fueling process began.

When the same issue scrubbed launch attempts for two different missions last year, repairs took four days -- a timeline that would eliminate a Monday launch.

Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said it would be Saturday afternoon before technicians could get their hands on the faulty equipment, a plate that connects a vent line to the external tank.

"We know we have a significant leak and we'll go address it, and if we can get an attempt Monday, that would be great, and that's the challenge we're going to give the team," he said.

Mission managers are expected to meet tomorrow to further assess if a Monday launch attempt an option.

Today, a news conference to discuss the issues is expected no earlier than 1 p.m. Watch it live here by clicking on the NASA TV image at right.

IMAGES: Above: On March 11, 2009, the hydrogen vent line attached to the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank. The vent line is at the intertank and is the overboard vent to the pad and the flare stack where the vented hydrogen is burned off. Photo courtesy of United Space Alliance. Below: On June 14, 2009, The GUCP on space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank. Workers have removed the 7-inch quick disconnect to change out seals in the internal connection points. Photo credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs


Mark Lopa said...

Someone just posted on another board that NASA is going to wait until November 30. I don't know if that's just his opinion, or if they just made an announcement.

Anonymous said...

This last delay of a significant leak of hydrogen gas might be a sign that this shuttle mission should just be scrubbed. Wonder if any of those 171 United Space Alliance workers at KSC receiving layoff notices today worked on the shuttle? We’d like to believe NASA isn’t taking unnecessary risks at this point while phasing out the space program.

Anonymous said...

Nope, Nov 30th is correct. Got inside info.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't doubt if there are further unexpected delays the way this seems to be going. Just seems inevitable, but I'm still looking forward to watching the last few shuttle launches with the family. Never know when we'll have that opportunity in the future after the shuttle program ends. Good Luck on Nov 30.

Anonymous said...

I can think of a few people who could of been sent up to the tank with bic to test for the leak!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @1:14PM Yeah, Good ole Charlie Bolden

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