Discovery Still on Track for Wednesday Afternoon Launch


Although NASA had to work a couple of issues last night, at this point there are no technical constraints that would preclude a launch tomorrow afternoon. The weather outlook is still favorable with only a 30% chance of weather violation.

The first issue came up last night was a faulty regulator on the launch pad nitrogen purge system which was repaired. Early this morning though during engine check-outs, the engine 3 backup engine controller did not come up as expected. The problem was narrowed down to a circuit breaker or switch. Transient contamination was narrowed down as the issue which sometimes happens according to Steve Payne, NASA test director. Recycling the breaker and switch solved the issue.

Steve Payne commented, "you know next to the launch itself this is the part I like the best, we're in launch countdown within a day of launch, there's a lot of excitement in the air, everyone's putting on their game face and getting ready for the launch tomorrow. "

This afternoon the shuttle's middeck payloads, last minute additions and essentials, will be stowed. This evening at 7:00 pm eastern the rotating service structure will begin to move away from Discovery. The countdown will resume at 11:27 pm. eastern, the T-11 hours mark.

Weather is still an issue but for Wednesday it's looking pretty good. While low clouds and isolated showers will be in the area they should not be a problem as launch nears. However should the weather prevent a launch tomorrow Thursday is definitely looking unlikely as there is a weather system going through the area with a 70% chance of violating the constraints to launch. Friday is looking good so far although winds could be an issue. For the weekend winds are the only issue at this time.

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