Discovery Space Shuttle To Be Launched On Friday
The Discovery space shuttle was orginally scheduled to take off on Monday, but helium and nitrogen leaks on the fuel tanks were observed during the final tests. Moreover, the engineers had also noticed a separate problem with one of the backup computer systems. It took them two days to fix the problems and the launch was postponed for Wednesday. But the NASA officials were again forced to delay the flight after an electrical glitch appeared at an engine controller in the backup system repaired before. More precisely, voltage irregularities were observed at main engine number 3.
NASA analyzed the problem and came to the conclusion that it was nothing serious, but just a residual contamination on a circuit breaker connection. They took care of the problem by plugging the connectors in and out and thus cleaning their metallic surfaces and said that the shuttle was good to go. A new blast off was scheduled for Friday, but only if the wheather allows it. Anyway the space shuttle must be launched by Sunday, November the 7th, or NASA will miss the current window and will have to wait until next month to try again.
This is the 39th voyage for Discovery, NASAʼs oldest operational space shuttle. Its mission consists of a 11-day flight to the International Space Station, where its six-member crew, including a female mission specialist, are expected to deliver a pressurized logistics module called Leonardo. Leonardo will be permanently attached to ISS and will give it more storage space. Besides that, Discovery will bring Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space, as well as spare parts for the space station. During the mission two space walks for mentainance work and component installation are also expected to take place.
Once returning to Earth, Discovery will be sent to the museum alongside with Atlantis and Endeavour, the other United States shuttles to be retired, as NASA puts a temporary end to its orbiter program. This leaves the Russian Soyuz spacecraft the only vehicle for space flights fot the next several years. Nevertheless, NASAʼs recently approved 2011 budget gives them hope for an additional shuttle flight in June.11