NASA to know Sunday whether shuttle can fly Monday

May 01, 2011 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer
Visitors at the Kennedy Space Center take photos and get a close view of space shuttle Endeavour on Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, April 30, 2011. Yesterdays' launch attempt was scrubbed due to technical problems.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- Engineers should know Sunday whether Endeavour's six-man crew and their families - including wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords - need to stick around for a Monday launch attempt or come back sometime around Mother's Day.

Technicians spent Saturday draining fuel from the shuttle and then getting into the crowded guts of the left rear compartment. Their job is to figure out just what went wrong in a heating system for a power system that controls crucial hydraulics. The problem was severe enough to make NASA postpone Friday's launch, which had become a spectacle.

Kennedy Space Center appeared mostly empty Saturday, foreshadowing what might happen after the ends this summer. Gone were the crowds hoping to see the second-to-last shuttle launch and throngs of media for the saga of Giffords, shot in the head by a would-be assassin in January, and her husband, Endeavour commander Mark Kelly.

"It was great to see my friend Rep. Gabby Giffords again this week in . She was in good spirits, felt good and looked good," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat. "She worked hard to be able to make the trip to Florida and I'm thrilled for her and Mark that she will be able to see him off as he launches into space. She is a fighter and a real inspiration."

Astronauts are likely to spend much of the weekend relaxing with their families - presumably including Giffords - at the limited access beach house, said Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana.

"Today is a kind of rest and try to recoup day except for the technicians working to isolate and fix this problem," NASA spokesman Mike Curie said Saturday afternoon.

There are two likely scenarios for NASA's . It could be just a thermostat. That's what NASA is hoping for because that is something that can be quickly replaced and put Endeavour on track for a Monday 2:34 p.m. EDT launch attempt. Meteorologists give an 80 percent chance for acceptable weather Monday afternoon with slight worries about winds at the emergency landing site, low clouds and visibility, Curie said.

The other option includes a fault in another part of the electrical system that isn't quite so quickly fixed. It could be a box of switches that would then require at least two days of testing. If that's the case, launch is not likely before May 8. NASA got some partial good news Saturday afternoon when one fuse panel - which would have required a long time to fix and test - proved to be working normally, but there are still other potential problems that could cause a delay of several days.

managers have to make a decision by early Sunday afternoon, if they want to be on track for a Monday .

Explore further: Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

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

Related Stories

NASA braces for Giffords, Obama, huge launch crowd

Apr 27, 2011

(AP) -- NASA officials say they're pleased that space shuttle Endeavour's final launch is expected to attract more than a half-million visitors Friday, including President Barack Obama.

NASA chief: Giffords welcome at husband's launch

Feb 15, 2011

(AP) -- NASA's chief says it would be tremendous for the space shuttle crew and the nation if Rep. Gabrielle Giffords can watch her astronaut husband launch from Cape Canaveral in April.

Shuttle flight is delayed; Obama visits Giffords

Apr 29, 2011

(AP) -- The president was on his way. Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts were riding out to the launch pad in a van. And a wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had flown in from her Houston rehab hospital to ...

Astronauts arrive for next-to-last shuttle launch

Apr 26, 2011

(AP) -- The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords arrived at NASA's launch site Tuesday for this week's flight of space shuttle Endeavour, and said his wife would be following him "pretty soon" ...

Countdown begins for next-to-last shuttle launch

Apr 26, 2011

(AP) -- The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords arrived at NASA's launch site Tuesday for this week's flight of space shuttle Endeavour, and said his wife would be following him "pretty soon" ...

Recommended for you

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

12 hours ago

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Europe launches two navigation satellites

12 hours ago

Two satellites for Europe's rival to GPS were lifted into space on Friday to boost the Galileo constellation to six orbiters of a final 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

13 hours ago

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

How the sun caused an aurora this week

15 hours ago

On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this ...

User comments : 0