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Malfunctioning Fuel Gauge Delays Space Shuttle.


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

The return to flight launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery was delayed Wednesday when a faulty fuel gage failed a prelaunch check. The shuttle actually has four of these sensors for redundancy, but they all need to be working for the shuttle to get cleared for launch. The launch window has been pushed back to Saturday, July 16 at 1940 UTC (2:40 pm EDT). When it finally gets off the ground, Discovery will deliver supplies to the International Space Station and test new safety procedures developed for the Return to Flight.

The launch of NASA's Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission, STS-114, will take place no earlier than Saturday, July 16 at 2:40 p.m. EDT. Space Shuttle Discovery's liftoff today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., was postponed at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

During countdown activities, a low-level fuel cut-off sensor located inside the External Tank failed a routine prelaunch check. The sensor protects a shuttle's main engines by triggering their shut down in the event fuel runs unexpectedly low. The sensor is one of four inside the liquid Hydrogen section of the External Tank.

The External Tank's liquid oxygen and liquid Hydrogen were drained this evening. While the tank was being emptied, engineers monitored and collected data on the liquid Hydrogen sensor that failed. They will continue to collect and analyze data overnight.

Space Shuttle Program managers plan a series of meetings tomorrow to discuss the problem and determine the steps necessary to get back into the launch countdown.

The STS-114 crew will remain at Kennedy Space Center for now while engineers work on the problem.

During their 12-day Return to Flight mission to the International Space Station, Discovery's seven crew members will test new techniques and equipment designed to make Space Shuttles safer. They'll also deliver supplies and make repairs to the Space Station.

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

http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight




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