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Saturday, 13 June 2009 18:43

NASA delays next shuttle mission at least 4 days

Because of a leaky hydrogen vent system, NASA mission managers were forced to postpone the liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour and its STS-127 crew.

The external tank hydrogen vent system is located outside of the external fuel tank (ET). The line carries (“vents”) excess gaseous hydrogen away from the launch pad.

According to the June 13, 2009 NASA media brief NASA postpones launch of space shuttle Endeavour, “Managers scrubbed the launch for at least 96 hours.” The launch was scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 13, 2009.

Mission managers will meet on Sunday, June 14 to discuss repair options and future launch opportunities.

The 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) meeting will be followed with a news conference that will be presented on NASA Television (check your local TV listing) and on the Web at NASA TV.

The NASA mission managers did say that the launch will not occur before June 17. However, they also stated that a conflict already exists for that day.

Specifically, the LRO/LCROSS mission of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft (LCROSS) is scheduled to launch on that day.

The LRO is a robotic spacecraft designed to orbit the Moon. The LCROSS is designed to detect water expelled off the Moon after the upper stage of the launch vehicle is intentionally flown into a lunar crater.

Page two continues with more information on LRO/LCROSS, STS-127, and Expedition 20.

The LRO/LCROSS is currently scheduled to launch on June 17, 2009, at 3:51 p.m. EDT.

Launch opportunities also exist at 4:01 p.m. and 4:11 p.m.

NASA states, “The 16-day mission [for STS-127] will feature five spacewalks and complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Astronauts will attach a platform to the outside of the Japanese module that will allow experiments to be exposed to space.”

The STS-127 crewmembers are NASA astronauts: commander Mark Polansky, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Dave Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Tim Kopra: and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut  and mission specialist Julie Payette.

Kopra will join the Expedition 20 International Space Station crew as one of its flight engineers.

He will replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will return to Earth on Endeavour to conclude a three-month stay at the station.

Additional information on LRO/LCROSS is found at: https://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/.

The web site states, "The Mission Objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) include confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the Moon."

"LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials."

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