November 5, 2010

Discovery Final Flight Scrubbed Until After November 30

NASA has announced that a hydrogen leak is delaying space shuttle Discovery's final flight for the fifth time.

Officials said the next launch attempt will not take place until after November 30.

"NASA managers have decided to postpone the next launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery to no earlier than November 30 at 4:05 am EST (0905 GMT)," the US space agency said on its website.

The STS-133 mission has had multiple complications from bad weather to equipment problems.

"We know we have a significant leak," said launch director Mike Leinbach, who said NASA specialists were working toward a Monday launch even though he described that as a "challenge."

"Sometime tomorrow we will have a trouble-shooting plan," Leinbach said. "Probably tomorrow afternoon."

The leak was found about two hours after operations started filling the external fuel tanks with liquid hydrogen ahead of the launch.

The hydrogen leak was detected at "an attachment point between the external tank and a 17-inch pipe that carries gaseous hydrogen safely away from Discovery to the flare stack, where it is burned off," NASA said.

Thursday's launch was delayed because of heavy rain, and electrical glitches postponed the launch the other three times. 

The STS-133 mission will see the Discovery take six astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver a pressurized logistics module.

The shuttle will also bring Robonaut 2, which is the first human-like robot, in space to be a permanent resident of the ISS.

This will be space shuttle Discovery's 39th and final flight into space. destination.


Image 2: This is the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, the location of the hydrogen leak. Credit: NASA


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