Monday, June 15, 2009

NASA to Announce Launch Plans Today

NASA today will announce the readiness to launch space shuttle
Endeavour on Wednesday or stand down to allow a pair of NASA
satellites to launch to the moon the same day here at Cape Canaveral.

An afternoon statement from the space agency will outline if Endeavour
can fly or not following the repair of a gaseous hydrogen (GH2) leak
which cropped up at midnight on Saturday morning forcing a launch
scrub. A leaky seal in a vent valve at the connection point of a vent
line which runs from the shuttle's external fuel tank to the launch
pad and then down and out where the GH2 is burned off to avoid any
build up which would be serious when the main engines ignite six
seconds prior to lift off.

A Wednesday launch time would see Endeavour's soild rocket boosters
ignite at 5:40:50 am EDT, pushing the entire shuttle stack skyward for
a Friday docking with the international space station.

If NASA determines that Endeavour is not ready to fly following the
repairs, then a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA's
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission would fly at 3:51 pm on Wednesday

Space Shuttle Mission Management chairman LeRoy Cain said late Sunday,
"If shuttle goes first on the (June) 17th, then the most opportunities
we can give LRO is two, and that would be on the 19th and 20th."

The LRO mission carries a secondary satellite, LCROSS, and is the
first flight under NASA's return to the moon program. The agency will
use the lunar duo to map the surface, and search for the best landing
site for a future human landing on the moon around 2020.

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