NASA postpones Discovery launch

February 21st, 2009 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 21 (Xinhua) NASA has for the fourth time delayed the launch of its space shuttle Discovery due to technical reasons, the US space agency has announced.
After meeting all Friday at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, shuttle managers decided against launching it in a week. The launch date for Discovery is currently “under review”, NASA said in a statement. The launch had been targeted for no sooner than Feb 27.

Discovery’s valves were removed, inspected and reinstalled as a precaution after one valve on the shuttle Endeavor broke during its November mission. The valves channel hydrogen gas from the main engines to the external fuel tank.

Managers want to make sure if that happens again, the shuttle and its seven-men crew would be safe.

Discovery’s latest mission to the International Space Station (ISS) originally had been scheduled for Feb 12. During a review of Discovery’s readiness for flight, NASA managers decided Feb 3 to plan a launch no earlier than Feb 19.

However, on Feb 7, NASA announced the launch would be no earlier than Feb 22, citing concerns over a valve that keeps fuel flowing in Discovery’s main engines.

On Friday, NASA announced that Discovery’s liftoff was targeted no earlier than Feb 27.

Discovery’s 14-day mission would deliver the ISS’s fourth and final set of solar arrays. The shuttle will also carry a distillation assembly for the station’s new water recycling system.

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