Shuttle launch cancelled due to gas leakMarch 12th, 2009 - 3:22 am ICT by IANS
Washington, March 12 (DPA) The launch of the space shuttle Discovery planned for Wednesday was abruptly cancelled just hours ahead of blast off.
NASA called off the launch after it discovered a leak in a hydrogen vent line between the shuttle and its external fuel tank. The US space agency made the decision ahead of a planned 9.20 p.m. launch.
Technicians had been filling the tank with fuel and would now have to completely drain it. A new launch time was set for 8.54 p.m. Thursday, depending on what repairs were deemed necessary. Officials were to meet to discuss the problem.
The launch had already been delayed for weeks to allow NASA time to examine valves that control the flow of gaseous hydrogen from the spacecraft’s engine to its external fuel tank. A valve was found to be damaged after the space shuttle Endeavour’s November flight, prompting NASA to delay Discovery’s mission as a precautionary measure.
The Discovery is to deliver the fourth and final solar panel to the International Space Station (ISS) on a construction mission that will enable it to double the size of its crew to six astronauts. The shuttle will also bring the ISS’ first long-term Japanese crew member, Koichi Wakata.
An old-fashioned magnetic stress test convinced managers last week that Discovery could launch, saving about a month’s time in the hectic final two years before the ageing shuttle fleet is retired.
It had earlier seemed Discovery could not launch before mid-April, two months after originally planned.
The Discovery’s 14-day mission will include four spacewalks. The first will focus on getting the 14,118-kg, 14-metre solar array in place to complete the station’s backbone, making it longer than the length of a football field. The other three spacewalks would focus on a variety of smaller construction tasks.
Discovery will also deliver a new device designed to recycle urine and sweat into drinkable water. An earlier machine had been installed on a previous mission, but astronauts never managed to get it fully functioning. The older version will be returned to Earth so engineers can examine it for flaws.
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- Space shuttle Discovery docks with space station - Mar 18, 2009
- NASA delays Discovery launch - Aug 28, 2009
- Space shuttle Discovery blasts off (Lead) - Aug 29, 2009
- NASA reschedules shuttle launch for Sunday night - Mar 15, 2009
- Discovery astronauts install solar panel on spacewalk - Mar 20, 2009
- Discovery astronauts finish third, final spacewalk - Mar 24, 2009
- Space shuttle Discovery returns after 15-day mission - Apr 20, 2010
- Space shuttle Discovery lifts off for final voyage - Feb 25, 2011
- Launch of space shuttle Discovery postponed - Nov 06, 2010
- NASA calls off Endeavour launch attempt due to technical problem - Apr 30, 2011
- NASA delays Endeavour launch by 24 hours - Jul 12, 2009
- Discovery shuttle launched - Apr 05, 2010
Tags: construction tasks, crew member, external fuel tank, gas leak, gaseous hydrogen, international space station, koichi wakata, launch, length of a football field, nasa time, precautionary measure, shuttle fleet, solar array, solar panel, space shuttle discovery, space shuttle endeavour, space station iss, stress test, us space agency, vent line