November 5th, 2010
UPDATE NASA Shuttle.. Leak Leaves Launch In Lurch (LAUNCH DELAY)
Details will be discussed during a 1 p.m. news conference with Mike Moses, Space Shuttle Program launch integration manager and mission management team chairman, and Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director.
Technicians will retrieve the ground umbilical carrier plate at Launch Pad 39A and begin a close look at it over the weekend after a leak in the apparatus prompted a scrub of Friday's launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery. Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director, said the liftoff was postponed until no earlier than November 30 so engineers could have time to consider the problem and inspect the GUCP more closely.
Mission managers also will look closely at a crack in the external tank foam that developed as supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen were being drained from the tank. The 15-story tall, orange external tank shrinks and expands as its temperature changes from the effects of the propellants. That change can cause the foam insulation on the outside of it to crack.
Mike Moses, chair of the Mission Management Team, said the crack did not develop until after the launch attempt was called off. However, he said the team will analyze the crack carefully.
The leak, detected early Friday morning while the shuttle's external fuel tank was being loaded, was at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, an attachment point between the external tank and a 17-inch pipe that carries gaseous hydrogen safely away from Discovery to the flare stack, where it is burned off.
The 11-day STS-133 mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the station. The PMM, which was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, will provide additional storage for the station crew and experiments may be conducted inside it, such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology.
The flight also will transport critical spare parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) to the station. ELC4 is an external platform that holds large equipment. Robonaut 2, or R2, will be the first human-like robot in space when it flies on Discovery inside the PMM to become a permanent resident of the station. The mission will feature two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.
Commander Steve Lindsey leads the veteran crew, which includes Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.
STS-133 is the final shuttle mission planned for 2010, Discovery's 39th flight and the 35th shuttle mission to the station.