Tuesday, July 19, 2005



The earliest the space shuttle Discovery could be launched has now been pushed back to next Tuesday. NASA engineers still haven't figured out what caused the problem with one of the low-fuel sensors in the external tank. Even if they do find the problem, it will take at least four days after they fix it before a launch is attempted.

They are keeping their options open though. NASA is looking at the possibility of extending the launch window into early August, although the lighting conditions necessary to photograph the entire boost phase are much poorer then. If they can't do it this time around, the next window opens in September, and then another in November. Of course, each time they push back this launch, it pushes their entire schedule back (Atlantis is scheduled for the September window, and if Discovery has to wait until that time, then Atlantis will be pushed back too).

In the meantime, all three remaining shuttles get a little older, and a little closer to retirement.

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