Friday, February 06, 2009

Shuttle Managers announce Launch Slip

Space shuttle program management announced this afternoon that the target launch date for the next flight would be delayed by a few days to allow for more testing related to the shuttle's hydrogen valves.

The planning launch date of February 19 has now been moved back to February 22, to give launch pad engineers more time to assess data being collected to see if slight cracks exist on any of the three hydrogen flow valves located in the aft engine compartment of Discovery. Cracks were discovered last November following Endeavour's mission.

During Endeavour's climb to orbit, when the shuttle's main engine's are at full throttle - one of her three hydrogen flow valve began leaking through a crack, causing extra hydrogen to flow into the main engines. The other two valves, according to shuttle managers, decreased their flow rate to keep the overall flow nominal.

If Discovery is given the go to launch on February 22, lift-off time would be 3:31 am EST from pad 39-A. That would place the orbiter on a space station docking timeline of 11:55 pm EST, the following day. Landing would then occur on March 7th, with a possible one day extension.

This Friday the 13th, a meeting will be held to assess the data taken on the valves and as to what options will need to be addressed.

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