NASA shooting for Sunday shuttle Discovery launch

Mar 12, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer

(AP) -- NASA is replacing some space shuttle connections in hopes of plugging a gas leak and launching Discovery to the international space station on Sunday, after delays of more than a month.

Discovery was supposed to blast off Wednesday night with a crew of seven and one final set of for the . But hydrogen gas began leaking as the was being fueled, and called everything off.

The leak occurred near the line that vents hydrogen gas out of the . On Thursday, workers were removing the quick-disconnect unit at that location and a pair of seals, and planned to replace the parts Friday.

spokesman Allard Beutel said managers have "high confidence" that all the repair work can be done in time to at 7:43 p.m. Sunday. That would lead to a slightly shortened mission and one less than planned, in order to make way at the for a scheduled for liftoff on March 26.

The Soyuz is a higher-priority mission. It will deliver a fresh crew to the space station.

was supposed to spend 14 days in orbit. If the occurs Sunday, then the mission will be reduced to 13 days and there will be three spacewalks instead of the planned four, Beutel said.

Because of the impending Soyuz mission, Discovery must be flying by Tuesday. Otherwise, the shuttle will have to wait until April.

Liftoff originally was targeted for mid-February, but NASA kept delaying the flight because of concern over hydrogen gas valves in Discovery's engine compartment. Extra tests were ordered to ensure that the three valves in Discovery were safe to fly and would not break like one did during the last shuttle launch in November.

---

On the Net:

NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

Related Stories

NASA fuels Discovery for flight to space station

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- NASA fueled space shuttle Discovery for a night flight to the international space station Wednesday, following a month's delay to make sure the ship's valves are just right.

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

18 hours ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

Mar 30, 2015

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.