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Space Shuttle Launch Delayed

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After a ten hour rollout to the launch pad Wednesday, the scheduled May launch of Space Shuttle Discovery has been put on hold. During a tank test of the main booster, ice began to form on fuel feed tubes. Engineers fear that the ice poses a threat, that it would damage the shuttle’s heat shields if it broke off during launch. This prompted yet another delay in the long anticipated Return To Space.

At the time of this writing, there has been speculation that the shuttle may have to return to its hanger for design changes. There have been suggestions that external heaters will be used to keep ice from forming prior to launch. This redesign will add weeks to the delay, with the soonest launch date now tentatively scheduled for mid July.

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About Bennett Dawson

  • I once saw a night launch of the shuttle, from the Kennedy Space Centre. It was awesome to watch the jungle light up as if it were daylight.

  • JR

    Won’t get to see that anymore. Pity.

  • Bennett Dawson

    Hey Triniman, You LUCKY person! I have planed to see a launch for some time now, and with the way NASA has been scaling back the planned missions for the shuttle, I damn well better get on it!

  • Bennett Dawson

    Hey JR, Why do you say that? I knew that this first “return to flight” mission was planned as a daylight only launch, but haven’t heard that ALL future missions are daylight only.

    Tell me some news!


  • JR

    Actually, I may be wrong. I just saw this in a CNN story:

    The window is limited because the agency has committed to daytime launches for the next two missions to provide ideal lighting conditions for upgraded cameras that will image the shuttle as it climbs into orbit.

    So maybe I was confused when I originally read that the policy applies to all future launches.

  • Tony L

    Isn’t it just time to scrap the Space Shuttle? You couldn’t pay me enough money to fly in it. I pray for those astronauts who are going on the next mission. I say let’s cost our losses and have NASA design a more reliable vehicle.

  • NASA has no other way to put people in space. For the time being, it’s either use the Space Shuttle, or contract out all human flights to agencies in other countries (and the only option there is Russia).

    The U.S. space agency has been actively trying to design a replacement vehicle for over a decade now, if I recall correctly, but none of the designs have gotten past the testing stages. At the moment no shuttle replacement is anywhere near entering its useful service life.

  • Bennett Dawson

    Actually, although the shuttle is a reliable vehicle, when it isn’t clubbed by falling debris on liftoff, and I’d jump at the opportunity for a seat in it.

    I believe NASA has the next generation of Heavy Lift Vehicle being prepared to replace the shuttle in 2010. As well as a Crew Lift Vehicle for lifting smaller payloads (personel) up to the ISS. Japan, as well as the ESA are developing single stage to orbit vehicles for their space programs, and China is moving forward with their manned space program, although details are obviously limited.

    Our president’s “vision for space” clearly depends on a phase in of the HLV and the phase out of the shuttle.

  • I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the fact that there has been continuous development of previous generations of expendable boosters (Titan, Atlas and Delta), yet there was never any effort to continue development of the Saturn series. True, the Saturn boosters were purpose built for Apollo, however, some form of uprating for heavy lift capability while the tooling and infrastructure were in place for Saturn might’ve been a prudent hedge against Shuttle performance or reliability issues. Which leads to a related question – did they ever solve the “pogo” issue with the Saturn V?

  • We need the shuttles to finish building the ISS. Nobody has heavy launchers with the capacity to put the remaining space station modules into orbit without the Space Shuttle. Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and the United States all have rockets with too little lift capacity for that.

    2010 is still a long way off, with the construction already so far behind schedule.

    Of course, we could just skip building the rest of the ISS, and skip putting people into Earth orbits, and skip putting people on the moon. We could just go directly to Mars.

    The launchers needed for that would have about the same capacity as the old Saturn 5 boosters we used for the Apollo program, making the same design quite usable for later missions to anywhere in the Earth-Moon locality, if we were to feel any particular need for them.

    But Mars is our gateway to the vast mineral wealth of the asteroid belt, and also to the gas giant planets, which in all probability will end up as the Persian Gulf of the solar system.

    Sadly, only a few people have the vision to see this is where our space program should aim its efforts.

    Not decades from now, but right now.

  • matt

    I heard a rumor that the space shuttle flew on an unscheduled flight on 9/11….after the towers where hit….any truth to this????

  • Not likely. It takes months of preparation by hundreds of workers (perhaps even thousands of workers; I don’t recall the exact figure right now) to get ready for any Space Shuttle launch. There’s just no such thing as an unscheduled flight of the Space Shuttle.

  • Matt

    It seemed to weird to be true. The only thing I was thinking is that officials would have been afraid it too was a target, and it was ready, so they launched it to protect it.