NASA gives 'go' for Thurs. launch as storms loom

Nov 03, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
The sun begins to set behind the space shuttle Discovery, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Discovery, and her crew of six astronauts, are scheduled to lift off Thursday on a trip to the international space station. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP) -- NASA will try Thursday to launch space shuttle Discovery on its final voyage, although stormy weather could force yet another delay.

Mission managers met Wednesday afternoon and into the evening to discuss an electrical problem that forced the latest postponement. They concluded the circuit breaker trouble no longer exists and the shuttle is safe to fly.

But forecasters warned there is an 80 percent chance that thunderstorms will keep Discovery on the pad. Liftoff is scheduled for 3:29 p.m.

The decision came as dark storm clouds rolled over the launch site in Florida, putting some launch preparations on hold.

Managers will reconvene before daybreak to assess the weather, before loading the shuttle's fuel tank.

"If the forecast tomorrow morning is still as bad as it is today, there's a chance" that Thursday's launch attempt will be called off, mission management team chairman Mike Moses said Wednesday night. "It's too early to make that call right now."

Discovery's flight to the International Space Station was first stalled by gas leaks last week. Then a problem cropped up Tuesday with a computerized controller for one of the main engines. At this point, the mission is running three days late.

The space agency has until Sunday to launch Discovery. Otherwise, it will have to wait until December because of sun angles.

Engineers traced the electrical trouble to a circuit breaker that apparently failed to make solid contact. That caused the backup computerized controller to be sluggish and experience a slight voltage drop.

Moses said a bit of residue likely was the culprit, and repeatedly pushing the circuit breaker in and out knocked it off.

"While we don't completely understand the failure ... everybody was comfortable with the residual risk left, that it was an acceptable one to take ... and we're good to fly," said Moses.

Aboard Discovery for its 39th and final voyage will be a crew of six veteran astronauts as well as thousands of pounds of supplies, including a humanoid robot.

Discovery has carried 180 individuals into orbit over its 26-year career, and logged nearly 150 million miles and more than 5,600 orbits of Earth. It is NASA's oldest surviving shuttle and fleet leader, and will be the first to be prepared for museum retirement.

One final shuttle mission is officially on the books for next year as NASA looks toward newer and farther-flying craft. An extra flight may be added.

Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station (Update)

More information: NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission-pages/shuttle/main/index.html

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

4 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.