Discovery May Take A Little Longer

    July 13, 2005

NASA delayed the shuttle launch today just a few short hours before it was scheduled to blast off. After Discovery avoided problems from Dennis, this new problem would seem to many a bit disheartening.

The culprit this time was a sensor that protects the orbiter’s main engines by triggering them to shut down in the even the fuel runs unexpectedly low. A similar problem plagued NASA back in April but when they replaced the circuitry, they thought they’d fixed the problem.

When running through the final preparations, controllers switched on the four fuel sensors, which should have read empty. One failed to come on.

Disappointment showed in the faces of all involved. Shuttle-Program Deputy Manage, Wayne Hale said, “All I can say is shucks.”

The sensors will take some time to replace. NASA figures July 16th will be the earliest the big bird will go into the air. The current window is good through July 31st. After that, it would be September before they would have another shot at a launch.

Apparently, there was some question about understand the problem when it initially happened anyway. They discussed the issue in meetings on Tuesday. Hale said at the meeting they would pick up any problems during the prelaunch tests and that’s exactly what happened.

While the scrubbed launch may be disheartening, it’s not the end of things by any means. Space missions get scrubbed frequently for a variety of reason, including weather, malfunctions and many others.

NASA director Griffin said in a Chicago Tribune story “That the Defense Department mission got scrubbed 14 times before we finally got into the air. This is nothing.”

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.