Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Discovery examined for potential damage from dropped tool

A Kennedy Space Center team is examining Discovery for potential damage after a technician's tool fell apart Tuesday evening. No damage has been reported.

The crew is performing a walkdown of launch pad 39A to see if any part of the shuttle might have been hit by small, lightweight pieces of metal that were part of a tool used to take measurements.

Technicians were at work on a hydrogen gas vent line that connects to the external tank. The vent line was disconnected Tuesday so a seal inside a quick disconnect device could be replaced.

NASA says a tethered tool called a feeler gauge, which is comprised of 13 blades of metal the thickness of a piece of paper that are connected by a retainer screw, came apart and components fell from the pad's 215-foot level.

Nine of 13 blades fell to various levels down to the flame trench, inclduing one that reportedly stuck in the tank before blowing out, according to NASA reports.

A walkdown was performed immediately, but a follow-up was planned this morning to get a better view in daylight.

Work on the vent line resumed after the incident, so it has not delayed plans to replace the seal and reconnect the vent line by Saturday.

If completed on time, Discovery will have two contingency days remaining in the processing flow preparing it for a targeted 4:50 p.m. Feb. 24 launch to the International Space Station.

Shuttle program managers are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. EST Thursday for a flight readiness review.

IMAGE: At Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 1, this image of launch pad 39A reveals the rising sun over newly arrived space shuttle Discovery. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

1 comment:

Michael said...

PULL. THE. PLUG. This is getting ludicrous. NASA... the gang that can't shoot straight.