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A July Shuttle Launch? Maybe, Maybe Not

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The earliest the space shuttle Discovery will launch will be Sunday, according to NASA-and that’s the Pollyanna viewpoint.

Deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said the possibility of a Sunday launch hinges on the simplest of solutions for fixing a faulty fuel gauge that led to the cancellation of Wednesday’s launch.

That solution: wiggling some wires and finding a loose connection. What do you know? I’m no rocket scientist, but that’s the first thing I would have tried, too. Maybe if they open it, blow into it and then tap it on their leg a few timesworks for Nintendo games.

Hayle felt the solution would probably be more complicated than loose wires and downplayed the possibility.

“I wish I had more answers for you,” he said.

NASA currently has 12 engineering teams looking into the fuel gauge problem to determine the reason for the malfunction.

The space agency is hopeful that the problem will be resolved before the launch window closes on July 31. As of now, Discovery will remain on the launch pad in lieu of a days-delaying trip back to the hangar.

“I’m not ready to give up on a July window,” Hale said. “We still have several days ahead of us.”

The next available window will begin on September 9, when the International Space Station will again be in the proper orbit for the 12-day maintenance visit.
In April, a similar malfunction in a fuel gauge was just one of the safety concerns that caused that delay. The problem was called an “unexplained anomaly.”

A July Shuttle Launch? Maybe, Maybe Not
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