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Shuttle Launch On Indefinite Hold

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  • Jeroen Kumeling
    ... SIGHTINGS ... Y2K - Shuttle Launch On Indefinite Hold By Miles O Brien CNN Space Correspondent http://cnn.com/1999/TECH/space/12/08/shuttle.delay/ 12-8-99
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 1999

      Y2K -
      Shuttle Launch On Indefinite Hold
      By Miles O'Brien
      CNN Space Correspondent

      HOUSTON (CNN) - Following the discovery of a crushed hydrogen cooling line,
      space shuttle mission managers met Wednesday and put the launch of the Space
      Shuttle Discovery on "indefinite hold." The launch team will spend 24 hours
      analyzing the problem and then make a final decision on when to launch

      NASA believes the crushed 4-inch line -- which recirculates hydrogen around
      the aft section of the shuttle to keep parts cool while the engines are
      firing -- could take at least five days to repair. But since this is an
      unprecedented problem, no one is certain how long that repair might take.

      NASA now says it needs to launch Discovery before December 17 in order to
      safely complete the 10-day mission and have the shuttle on the ground before
      any potential Y2K computer glitch could occur. The current launch date is
      shortly before midnight on Saturday, December 12.

      The shuttle is slated to rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope --
      conducting 4 spacewalks to repair and upgrade the nine-year-old orbiting
      observatory. Foremost among their tasks: replacement of the six gyroscopes
      that allow the Hubble to precisely focus on distant objects. The Hubble
      needs a minimum of three operative gyros. Four have failed - rendering the
      Hubble scientifically useless.

      Should delays push the mission too close to the deadline, shuttle managers
      have been considering a shortened mission -- perhaps eliminating the fourth
      and final spacewalk and an on-orbit off duty day in order to fly the mission
      before the end of the year.

      When the repair mission was announced in March, NASA aimed for an October
      launch date. But a short-circuit on sister ship Columbia seconds after
      liftoff prompted a fleet-wide wiring inspection and repair campaign. More
      than 50 nicks and exposed pieces of wiring were found and repaired in

      Other delays were prompted when engineers realized a small piece of a
      drill-bit had dropped into a cooling tube on one engine (it was replaced),
      two hurricanes, and now the crushed cooling line.

      The seven-man crew led by Commander Curt Brown is already at the Cape and in
      quarantine. Family members were scheduled to join them tomorrow. Instead, it
      is likely the crew will be returning to Houston.

      As one NASA source told CNN, chances of this mission flying this year are
      "50-50." A likely alternative launch date would be the second week of
      January. That would prompt a delay for Endeavour -- currently slated to
      launch on January 13 to conduct a radar-mapping mission.


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