Space shuttle leaking, NASA working up repair plan

October 18, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
The crew of space shuttle Discovery, from left, commander Steve Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe, mission specialist's Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott attend a news conference in front of the shuttle on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. Discovery is scheduled to launch Nov. 1. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery is leaking on the launch pad.

If it isn't fixed soon, the small fuel leak could delay Discovery's planned launch on Nov. 1. The flight to the will be Discovery's last.

Shuttle engineers met Monday afternoon to put together a repair plan. Later this week, technicians will tighten the bolts on the leaking fuel line. If that doesn't help, they may have to replace four seals or even part of the line.

Last week, replaced a cap in the system, but it did not stop the leak.

The rocket fuel is used to maneuver the shuttle while it's in orbit.

Explore further: NASA Updates Target Launch Date for Shuttle Discovery

More information: NASA:


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3 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
Leaking? It all DEPENDS!
3 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2010
This leaking rocket fuel, that's used to maneuver in space, can ignite on take-off or re-entry. I can't believe they're debating whether to replace the seals or just tighten the fitting. REPLACE THE SEALS!!!!
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2010
And if this were a commercial enterprise, the seals and probably the fuel line would have been replaced a week ago without any meetings required.

Been there, done that. It is the same in both general and commercial aviation. In a problem like this you pull the line replaceable assembly, and check any relatively expensive parts--in this case the fuel line--before returning it to inventory. The seals and cap nuts you throw away.

If you were a pilot, would you want to have to worry about a fuel leak restarting a few hours into the flight? To be sure it won't you need to pull the line and pressure test it. (With water, in the shop. If you have ever seen a line fail pressure testing, you would no why you want to do it with something as well behaved as possible. Water is one of the least compressible fluids around, so it may just spatter parts of the ceiling.)

If you still don't get it, on the space shuttle fuel is always pushed through the system by high pressure.
3.3 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2010
And if this were a commercial enterprise, the seals and probably the fuel line would have been replaced a week ago without any meetings required.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2010
Bureaucracy.....needs a diet in NASA. Then perhaps it would work more.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2010
Oh well, at least this dinosaur program is almost finished anyway.

Hopefully, whenever a replacement program is finally put in place, it will be a more modern and rigorous design.
5 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2010
If only all pioneers were as lame as you guys. Then we'd still be hunting and gathering in Africa.

I know, I know... fix the seal, it's not that hard...
5 / 5 (1) Oct 19, 2010
They have to take the whole shuttle back to the house, dunk it in water, and then look for where the bubbles are coming out. It's a time consuming process that they're hoping to avoid.

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