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Space Shuttle Launch Pushed Back at Least a Week.


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Space Shuttle on Mobile Launcher.
The Space Shuttle sits on the Mobile Launcher Platform. Image credit: NASA/KSC.

Space Shuttle managers have announced that Discovery won't be lifting off until late next week, at the earliest. Engineers and managers are still trying to troubleshoot exactly what caused a problem with the external tank's fuel gauge. It's possible that one of the new safety improvements, implemented as part of the Return to Flight effort might be causing the glitch. If the shuttle doesn't launch by July 31, it will need to wait again until September before there's another opportunity.

Space Shuttle managers now say the launch of NASA's Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission, STS-114, will take place no earlier than late next week. At 1 p.m. EDT today, managers officially stopped the current launch countdown for Space Shuttle Discovery at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Space Shuttle managers are optimistic that Discovery can lift off by July 31, the end of this launch window.

This weekend, managers and engineers will continue troubleshooting the problem with a liquid Hydrogen low-level fuel sensor inside the External Tank. The sensor failed a routine prelaunch check during the launch countdown Wednesday, causing mission managers to postpone Discovery's first launch attempt. A dozen teams, with hundreds of engineers across the country, are working on the issue.

Once the problem is resolved and the countdown can be restarted, it will take about four days to launch. A countdown from this point will be a complete start over at T-43 (time minus 43) hours. Currently, there are no plans to roll Discovery back from the launch pad.

For now, Commander Eileen Collins and her six Discovery crew mates will stay at Kennedy Space Center while engineers work on the solution.

For the latest information about the STS-114 mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight




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