NASA's Mission Management Team said late today that they are go to restart the countdown and launch space shuttle Discovery in the closing seconds of Friday night following major tests on a suspect fuel valve.
Launch control here at the Kennedy Space Center were to try for launch early Friday morning at 12:22 am EDT, however the MMT wanted to give the same team who researched the issue with the fill and drain valve a rest before they went on console to work the launch. Thus, they delayed the restart of the countdown until early Friday morning.
The 8-inch diameter valve allows liquid hydrogen (LH2) in the aft section of Discovery and must be closed at the time of launch. Late into Friday afternoon's fueling, when the valve is super cold due to the cryogenic LH2 fuel passing through it, the team wil cycle the valve to ensure that it is indeed closing.
Also late this afternoon at 4PM EDT, technicians moved the rotating service structure (image above) back around Discovery so that they can perform a few updates to the space shuttle stack. Among the tasks include replacement of several tyvek covers on the forward RCS jets. They help keep moisture and dirt out of the jets, and are replaced every seven days due to wear.
The RSS is expected to be rolled back into the launch postion at about 6AM on Friday.
For launch day, the MMT will meet one last time to review any new issues and to check if weather will allow the launch team to begin flowing the super cold fuels into the LH@ and LO@ (liquid oxygen) tanks beginning at 2:34 pm.
The flight crew will awake at 1 PM to begin their launch day and have breakfast 30 minutes later. At 8:09 pm, the crew will then depart their living quarters for the ride out to launch pad 39-A to begin boarding Discovery.
The weather forecast is currently 60% favorable at the 11:59:35 pm launch time, with anvil clouds and rain as possible issues.
Discovery's 37th crew includes commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, and mission specialists Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, Christer Fuglesang (European Space Agency) and Nicole Stott.
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