Discovery's final flight is delayed by electrical glitches: NASA says a Thursday launch is now likely.
Electrical glitches have caused a launch delay for the final flight of the
space shuttle Discovery. NASA announced that its Prelaunch Mission Management
Team wants to give engineers more time to look deeply into electrical issues
from a main engine computer controller that cropped up this morning. Therefore,
the launch of space shuttle Discovery on STS-133
has been delayed until at least Thursday, the space agency said.
Mike Moses, chair of the MMT, said the problems are believed to be tied to a
circuit breaker in the shuttle's cockpit.
Rather than rush the shuttle launch team through an analysis and launch
cycle quickly, Moses said he opted to let the engineers work throughout the
night on the issue without having to worry about an early morning tanking and
Wednesday afternoon launch. The MMT announced it will meet this afternoon and
then decide whether to try to launch Thursday. A liftoff Thursday would be at 3:29 p.m. EDT,
according to information released by the space agency.
Mission STS-133 will be the final flight
for the space shuttle Discovery. Following the STS-133
mission, Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire. "We're
wrapping up the Space Shuttle Program," said STS-133
Commander Steve Lindsey. "Besides the excitement of completing the
International Space Station and all the things we do, I hope people get a sense
of the history of what the shuttle is and what we've done and what's ending.
Because they'll probably never see anything like it flying again."
After STS-133, space shuttle Endeavour
has one more flight on the manifest. Atlantis has the possibility of another
flight, and it has to be ready for one regardless, as it would be the rescue
vehicle if Endeavour were to need it. According to NASA files, Discovery has
flown more missions than any other shuttle-more than any other spacecraft, in
After 38 missions to date, and more than 5,600 trips around Earth, Discovery
has carried satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and sent
the Ulysses robotic probe on its way to the sun. It was the first shuttle to
rendezvous with the Russian Mir Space Station, and it delivered the Japanese
Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS). For its last mission,
the shuttle and its crew will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose
Module (akin to a large storage closet) and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and
provide critical spare components to the ISS.
"It's 10 years that we've had a continuous presence on board the space
station," Royce Renfrew, lead space station flight director for the
mission, said about the module. "If you think about it, if you've lived in
your house 10 years, you've accumulated a lot of stuff, and it doesn't look
like the pristine, empty house that you moved into. We've gotten into a
configuration now on the space station where we have a lot of stuff and we don't
have a lot of space to put it in."
This time around, Discovery will carry a crew of six to and from the space
station-Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra,
Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.
The mission profile for the shuttle also noted that in addition to a host of
new science experiments and hardware, there's Robonaut 2, the first dexterous
humanoid robot in space. "Although its first priority will be to test its
operation in microgravity, upgrades could eventually allow it to fulfill its
ultimate purpose of becoming an astronaut helper on boring or dangerous tasks,"
a NASA brief said.