NASA Postpones Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA postponed space shuttle Discovery's launch to the International Space Station due to a hydrogen gas leak detected while filling the external tank. The next launch attempt could be no earlier than Monday, Nov. 8, at 12:53 p.m. EST.
The leak, detected early Friday morning while the shuttle's external fuel tank was being loaded, was at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, an attachment point between the external tank and a 17-inch pipe that carries gaseous hydrogen safely away from Discovery to the flare stack, where it is burned off.
NASA's mission managers will hold a meeting at 11 a.m. Friday to discuss the repair options and Discovery's launch opportunities. A news conference will air on NASA Television and the agency's website no earlier than 1 p.m. with Mike Moses, Space Shuttle Program launch integration manager, and Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director.
If a Monday launch is not possible, the next window for Discovery's liftoff is Nov. 30 through Dec. 5. The 11-day STS-133 mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the station. The PMM, which was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, will provide additional storage for the station crew and experiments may be conducted inside it, such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology.
The flight also will transport critical spare parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) to the station. ELC4 is an external platform that holds large equipment. Robonaut 2, or R2, will be the first human-like robot in space when it flies on Discovery inside the PMM to become a permanent resident of the station. The mission will feature two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.
Commander Steve Lindsey leads the veteran crew, which includes Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.
STS-133 is the final shuttle mission planned for 2010, Discovery's 39th flight and the 35th shuttle mission to the station.
For information about NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
For more information about the STS-133 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
Stott will send mission updates to her Twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/astro_nicole
For more information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
For information about NASA and other agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov
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