Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ariane Launch No Earlier Than Wednesday

A potential problem with a fuel manifold on the first stage of an Ariane rocket prompted the European Space Agency to delay for at least a day launch of a supply-laden cargo carrier to the International Space Station.

The next opportunity to launch the mission will come at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday. Assuming the problem can be cleared up, live NASA TV coverage of the second launch attempt would begin at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The countdown to a planned 5:13 p.m. launch today halted four minutes and one second before liftoff. Flight controllers received data that showed fuel was not flowing at the proper rate through a manifold on the first stage of the rocket. The rocket had to be launched at precisely 5:13 p.m. to put it on course for the station, so mission managers were forced to call it a day.

The postponement could cause a one-day delay in the planned Feb. 24 launch of shuttle Discovery and six astronauts to the station. All the details are in a post below.

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