Friday, November 5, 2010

Last Space Shuttle Discovery Launch This Afternoon: Maybe

Updated (November 5, 2010)

"NASA Postpones Shuttle Discovery Launch to Nov. 30 for Repairs "

Updated (November 5, 2010)
Denise Chow, (November 5, 2010)
"Fuel Leak Delays Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery"
Denise Chow, (November 5, 2010)

"A fuel leak on the space shuttle Discovery thwarted NASA efforts to launch the spacecraft today, delaying the shuttle's final liftoff to no earlier than Monday, Nov. 8.

"Discovery was slated to launch at 3:04 p.m. EDT (1904 GMT) today (Nov. 5) but a leak of flammable liquid hydrogen discovered during fueling forced NASA to stand down.

"The next attempted launch of Discovery and its six-astronaut crew remains to be determined, but will come no earlier than Monday at 12:53 p.m. EST (1653 GMT)...."

"...The hydrogen gas leak was detected at around 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) in a location known as the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, which is an attachment point between the external tank and a 17-inch pipe that carries gaseous hydrogen safely away from the shuttle to the flare stack, where it is burned off...."

That text link take you to a sort of slide show about Discovery, on the website.

Between its temperature and chemical characteristics, liquid hydrogen is tricky stuff to work with - and that's another topic.
"NASA Hopes to Launch Shuttle Discovery on Final Mission After Delays"
Denise Chow, (November 5, 2010)

"After nearly a week of delays, NASA is once again readying the space shuttle Discovery for the last flight of her storied 26-year spaceflying career.

"Discovery, NASA's oldest space shuttle still flying, is poised to launch today (Nov. 5) at 3:04 p.m. EDT (1904 GMT) from the seaside Launch Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

"The mission has been delayed since Monday (Nov. 1) due to minor last-minute hiccups and stormy weather that drenched the Florida spaceport yesterday.

"Current weather forecasts, however, show a significant improvement for today's launch. Estimates are projecting a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions, with the main concern being high winds in the area...."

According to a NASA announcement, Discovery's launch time - weather and technology permitting - is 3:04 p.m. EDT. ("Weather Forecast Friday: 60 percent 'Go'," Latest Space Shuttle News, NASA) We'll see how this goes.

The Lemming may yet indulge in some nostalgia. Mostly, though, I'm excited that we're not looking at the end of something so much as seeing the start of more traffic to low Earth orbit. In quite a variety of vehicles.

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