The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

STS-121: News Update

NASA has released a status update saying a crack was found in the foam near a bracket on the external tank. The bracket holds the liquid oxygen feedline in place. The mission management team (MMT) will discuss the issue and decide what, if anything, should happen.

LOX Feedline Bracket

Update: The MMT will continue to analyse all available data to make a final decision regarding tomorrow’s launch. For more info, use the status update link above.

STS-121: Launch time

We’re roughly an hour before the scheduled lift-off of space shuttle Discovery. You can follow the launch on NASA‘s site. Weather is still an issue so a final go/no-go decision has yet to be made.

Update: T-9 minutes and holding; 20 minutes before launch… Weather status is still “no-go”.

Update 2: T-9 minutes and holding; 6 minutes before launch… Everything is “go” except the weather station which reports “no-go” because of anvil clouds. The launch team will continue to use the launch window and make use of spare 5 minutes.

Update 3: Launch scrubbed! The weather is not good. There are anvil clouds within 20 miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility which also serves as the Abort Landing Site. Another attempt to launch will be made tomorrow. Preferred launch time is 3:26 PM.

STS-121: Return To Flight Part 2

Just a reminder that space shuttle Discovery is scheduled for launch on Saturday. It will be the second test flight for the space shuttle after Columbia’s destruction during re-entry.

During the first test flight, the same problem that eventually led to the Columbia disaster surfaced again. The foam piece didn’t hit the orbiter though and it returned safely to Earth. But the events called for more research and more improvements to the external fuel tank.

During this mission, there will be an experimental space walk with an extension to the orbiter’s robotic arm to see if they can use the new device should they need to repair the shuttle during future missions. If things go wrong during the launch, the astronauts will be able to go aboard the ISS if the orbiter is not safe to return to Earth.

The space shuttle will retire in 2010, but the ISS is not finished yet. So if things go according to plans, NASA wants to make about 15 flights to the ISS to finish it and they’re also considering a last service flight to the Hubble space telescope. When visiting Hubble, it’s impossible to use the ISS as a final solution in case the orbiter is damaged. The idea is to use the robotic arm extension they’re testing during STS-121 and try to repair the shuttle’s heat shield.

At the time of writing, there’s about 60% chance they’ll need to scrub the launch due to the weather.