Repair call to Hubble delayed to late Sept. or early Oct.
Previously scheduled for a Hubble service mission on August 28, 2008, NASA officials had to reschedule the mission for late September or early October (about four or five weeks later), according to NASA space shuttle program manager John Shannon, because of fuel-tank production problems.
NASA was informed by officials with its Michoud Assembly Facility in Eastern New Orleans, Louisiana (United States) that it would not have a second external fuel tank ready in time for a late August launch.
The manufacturing facility east of New Orleans is an 832-acre (3.4-square kilometer) site, which is one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world.
The second external fuel tank would be used on space shuttle Endeavour (STS-400), which will be on standby for a rescue mission in case the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis needs to be rescued from orbit about the Earth during its STS-125 mission to Hubble.
The lead contractor Lockheed Martin, has been working diligently along with various subcontractors on the new designs to the external tank (ET). The external tank team at Michoud had to make major modifications to the external tank after space shuttle Columbia and its crew perished over the U.S. state of Texas early in 2003.
Thus, the production of these newly modified tanks has taken about four to five weeks longer than expected.
In fact, the number of shuttle flights in 2008 has been reduced from six to five because of this delay. However, NASA states that the delay is well worth it because of the much improved external tank that was designed and built.
NASA is still confident that it can complete the assembly of the International Space Station, its primary goal for the remaining shuttle flight, by September 30, 2010, the official retirement date of the space shuttle fleet.
How will NASA work the rescue mission if needed? Please read on.
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William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University