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NASA calls off Wednesday's shuttle launch

Soviet cogitations: 342
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Mar 2005, 23:42
Post 14 Jul 2005, 16:05
NASA calls off Wednesday's shuttle launch
Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:32 PM BST

By Deborah Zabarenko and Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA on Wednesday delayed the launch of its first space shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster after discovering a problem with one of Discovery's fuel sensors, NASA's launch commentator said.

"We will not be able to fly today," said commentator George Diller.

Discovery was fueled and ready to launch as planned at 3:51 p.m. EDT (1951 GMT) when the problem with the liquid hydrogen fuel sensor occurred at 1:32 p.m. (1732 GMT). The sensor is one of four that detects fuel levels when the tank is nearly empty.

Discovery's astronauts had just been strapped into their spaceship when mission controllers called off the launch.

"There are a lot of long faces in the control room," said Diller.

NASA did not immediately say how long the delay was likely to be but called a news briefing for later on Wednesday.

NASA has until July 31 to launch Discovery. After that it will have to delay until Sept. 9, when the International Space Station again comes into the right position for a shuttle rendezvous after a daylight liftoff.

Discovery's mission is the first shuttle flight since the Feb. 1, 2003, Columbia disaster, when seven astronauts died as their shuttle disintegrated over Texas.


"It is a complex system. Every little part counts," said astronaut David Wolf during Wednesday's broadcast mission commentary. NASA had problems with the fuel sensors during a fueling test in April.

The problem was the third technical issue to crop up as the countdown clock ticked off the hours to liftoff.

A faulty heater delayed the fueling of the external tank with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen by more than an hour on Wednesday, and on Tuesday, a falling window cover damaged two heat-resistant tiles near the shuttle's tail.

The weather on Wednesday had also threatened to prevent the launch, said NASA weather officer 1st Lt. Mindy Chavez, because of a 60 percent chance that thunderstorms would occur nearby.

In February, 2003, falling foam knocked a hole in Columbia's wing at liftoff, and superheated gases ate into the breach 16 days later when the spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere for landing, causing the craft to disintegrate.

In addition to testing new safety measures introduced after the Columbia accident, Discovery will deliver much-needed supplies and equipment to the space station.

The station's construction has been stalled since the remaining three-shuttle fleet was grounded after Columbia broke apart.

Discovery's flight also heralds the last chapter for the shuttle fleet, which is set to be retired in 2010 after about 20 construction flights to the station.

NASA's new administrator, Michael Griffin, said the shuttles will be succeeded by a new generation of spacecraft and there is no thought of extending the shuttle fleet's service after that. (Additional reporting by Michael Christie)
Please give aid to the victims in Cuba and Haiti do to the Hurricane and be true communist.

Over 600,00 Cubas do not have homes and in shouters
Soviet cogitations: 342
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Mar 2005, 23:42
Post 14 Jul 2005, 16:07
NASA's 50 steps to improve space shuttle safety

Phil Hahn, News

Updated: Mon. Jul. 11 2005 7:32 PM ET

The liftoff of Discovery comes after hundreds of modifications since its last launch in 2001. Fifty of those changes were prompted by the Columbia catastrophe on Feb. 1, 2003 that killed all seven crew members.

Since then, extraordinary preparations have been made to ensure the safety of the seven who will be launched into space on Wednesday.

After the loss of Columbia, NASA launched its Return to Flight program, where it looked "end-to-end at the shuttle to make improvements and make it safer than it has ever been," said Wayne Hale, deputy manager for the space shuttle program.

Some of those improvements include:

A redesigned external fuel tank

This is by far the most important piece of the safety puzzle that engineers have been focusing on.

Standing 154 feet tall and weighing 1.6 million pounds fully loaded, the fuel tank is also the shuttle's biggest piece.

Columbia's fuel tank lost a large chunk of foam insulation during liftoff, which punched a hole into the orbiter's left wing that proved catastrophic during re-entry.

Modifications to the tank include altering the design to minimize foam loss during launch, and eliminating foam from the bipod -- the piece that connects the tank to the forward part of the shuttle.

Bipod foam was the source of virtually every large piece of debris that hit the undercarriage of the Columbia.

Foam application

Engineers have modified several of the tank's external fixtures, so that the necessary but troublesome foam insulation can be sprayed onto the tank in a more uniform way.

This would ensure that no "voids" would be created in the insulation that would expand during launch and cause pieces of foam to fall off.

Workers in charge of spraying the foam on the tank are monitored by colleagues, videotaped as they work, and periodically tested to ensure they're using sound technique.

New heaters

After the fuel tank is filled with over two million litres of cryogenic propellants needed to get the shuttle in orbit, a special team will scrutinize Discovery's tank for ice buildups.

Scientists found that significant patches of ice are as destructive as flying foam, and the launch will be delayed if any are discovered.

NASA installed a on the tank in May to prevent the buildup of ice once super-cold fuel is pumped before liftoff.

Launch watch

NASA experts who investigated the Columbia disaster mandated daylight launch for the Discovery so that any debris or falling ice can be more easily detected.

Engineers will be monitoring the shuttle using 100 cameras that will record the liftoff from at least two angles.

Also monitoring the launch will be the NASA WB-57 -- a long-range research aircraft capable of flying for extended periods in altitudes well above 60,000 feet.

Orbital tests

New orbital tools and procedures have been developed to assess the shuttle's health in space.

Once the Discovery has successfully launched, a special Canadian-made laser system will be analyzing the shuttle, surveying it for any damage as it sails through the total blackness of space.

The laser, made by Ottawa-based Neptec, will be deployed on a special Canadarm extension manufactured by another Canadian company, MD Robotics. The arm enables engineers to scan even the most hard-to-reach corners of the spacecraft.

Emergency plan

If repairs to a damaged shuttle cannot be done in space, NASA has made sure the crew can take safe haven aboard the international space station for at least 45 days until a rescue shuttle can be sent to retrieve them.

Atlantis will have this role initially and will be ready to fly by June 14, should Discovery run into trouble.
Please give aid to the victims in Cuba and Haiti do to the Hurricane and be true communist.

Over 600,00 Cubas do not have homes and in shouters
Soviet cogitations: 229
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Jul 2005, 22:55
Post 14 Jul 2005, 20:08
Leave it to the United States to avert disaster once more 2 minutes before lift off. The suspense is killing me! Personally I'd love to see another " Columbus " disaster, inferior NASA shuttles, I love it when America fails, oh well, what else is new?
Soviet cogitations: 342
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Mar 2005, 23:42
Post 21 Jul 2005, 06:29
Experts: Aging Shuttle Fleet Poses Danger

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 17, 2005; 12:30 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Maybe NASA's managers still view the shuttle as the Cadillac of space technology, but they sometimes make it sound as if it were a cranky old Ford with a few too many miles on it.

Deputy shuttle manager Wayne Hale says its recent on-again, off-again electronics problem "reminds me of an old truck I own."

Delays for safety improvements have repeatedly thwarted the shuttle's comeback from the Columbia catastrophe 2 1/2 years ago. But aging components could eventually add their own setbacks and risks to flying as the shuttles near retirement in just five years, according to authorities on space travel.

"If I have any worries at all, it's a few years from now, down the road, when the hardware gets older," said Bob Sieck, a former shuttle launch director and NASA safety adviser.

Designed in the 1970s, the shuttle was meant to advance space travel by several giants leaps. It was to be named the Space Clipper, in a reference to the speedy American clipper ship that expanded the possibilities of sea travel in the 19th century.

The shuttle would be the first vehicle to travel back and forth to space. Its comparatively comfy quarters for crew and garage-like cargo bay made the old space capsules feel like claustrophobic sardine tins. The shuttle would make trips to space much more routine, more like commercial flying. It would potentially be the first step in putting space within the reach of ordinary business and tourism.

In the end, the shuttle took on its more prosaic name and accomplished more prosaic functions _ but still is a marvel of sorts. It has deployed satellites, maintained the Hubble Space Telescope, and helped to build the international space station. It has kept Americans in space while they tried to decide on their next destination after the moon.

But the shuttle's end has come in sight. "The clipper ships were the peak of the sailing art, and we don't see those either. I think there's a lesson to be learned from that," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said last week at Kennedy Space Center.

Columbia flew the first shuttle mission in 1981. It was quickly followed in the next several years by the shuttles Challenger, Discovery and Atlantis. Challenger was obliterated in its 1986 disaster, and Columbia was lost in 2003, killing a total of 14 astronauts in the two accidents. NASA is left with Discovery and Atlantis, ages 20 and 21, as well as the 13-year-old Endeavour that replaced Challenger.

People are young at 20, but electronics are well into maturity by then _ if not beyond. "I wonder whether I could find a single electronics box in my house that's 25 years old and still works. I don't think I can. It's the same thing with the orbiter," the NASA administrator said of a recent shuttle part breakdown.

It is ostensibly a similar problem in a fuel sensor that ruined the shuttle's long-awaited return to flight last week. A manager said _ and not in jest _ that they would first try to wiggle the wires. However, NASA did enlist a cross-country team of hundreds of engineers to figure out what went wrong. The agency has indefinitely delayed the launch.

John Muratore, a NASA systems manager working on the sensor fault, acknowledged the problem of fathoming glitches in aging shuttles. "There isn't a lot of experience with aging, with having spacecraft that have had this long an operational life," he said.

To troubleshooters, the shuttle presents a labyrinth of wires, cables, signal boxes, transistors, diodes and capacitors _ one of the world's most sophisticated machines. It enfolds 230 miles of wiring and 1,060 valves alone, and about 2.5 million parts in all.

Shuttle parts are regularly inspected and often replaced, especially ones viewed as critical to protect crew, craft and cargo. The shuttle replaces its external fuel tank with each flight.

"We have replaced much of the hardware. Some of the systems ... are more reliable than they were at the beginning of the program," said Michael Wetmore, NASA's director of shuttle processing. However, he acknowledged that some systems might show "a slowly increasing rate" of problems in the future.

Rattled by 180 million horsepower of thrust at liftoff, many shuttle parts do wear over time. They undergo extreme cold and heat during a flight. Some get nicked during maintenance, and others get chafed. Wires slowly crumble.

"We have learned that parts do need replacing more frequently than we would like," said Randy Avera, a former NASA engineer who helped develop the shuttle inspection program.

He said NASA should expand inspection and maintenance to keep the maturing shuttle fleet both efficient and safe. He said that will cost more money and possibly keep shuttles on the ground even longer. He fears the agency won't act quickly enough.

Kathryn Thornton, a former astronaut who has advised NASA on returning to flight, said she worries the agency won't be willing to keep the spacecraft in the best flying condition as it approaches retirement. "You have to keep the people and expertise around to the last flight," she said.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who chairs the Subcommittee on Science and Space, said she believes Congress will provide the money needed to keep the shuttle running safely until its successor is developed. "I think the key is not whether they are getting too old, but whether they are maintaining them properly," she said.

After all, she said, each was designed for 100 trips into space. Discovery, the dean of the fleet, has launched only 30 times. The entire fleet has gone up only 113 times. Its designers envisioned a lot more wear but over a much shorter time. The original design called for a 10-year life span.
Please give aid to the victims in Cuba and Haiti do to the Hurricane and be true communist.

Over 600,00 Cubas do not have homes and in shouters
Soviet cogitations: 2848
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Nov 2004, 20:31
Party Bureaucrat
Post 08 Aug 2005, 09:32
Personally I'd love to see another " Columbus "

Im sure you would...
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