Science and Technology News

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teams Evaluate Discovery Issues and Consider Repair Plans

Engineers met in a series of meetings today to discuss inspection and repair options for space shuttle Discovery’s ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP) and a crack in the external fuel tank foam insulation. Discovery's launch was postponed Friday until at least Nov. 30 because of a hydrogen gas leak at the GUCP. Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida have been measuring the alignment of the plate on the external tank and performing leak checks. Crews expect to begin disconnecting the GUCP Tuesday afternoon after disconnecting the hydrogen vent line that attaches to the GUCP. Managers will assess repair options after the disconnected GUCP is inspected

Teams also have begun analysis and inspection of the approximately 20-inch long crack in the external tank foam. Teams are planning to use terahertz or backscatter scans to see beneath the foam to look for any other potential issues. As soon as Wednesday, technicians could begin dissecting the cracked section so foam experts can make a thorough evaluation in order to help determine the cause of the crack. Teams still are working out plans to reapply foam to the external tank after inspections are complete. Shuttle managers continue evaluating the data to determine the best repair methods and next launch opportunity for Discovery’s STS-133 mission to the International Space Station.

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