Electrical Glitch in Discovery’s Number Three Engine Causes 24-Hour Delay

Discovery's final launch has been further delayed by a circuit-breaker issue in the shuttle's number three engine. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace/Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL –A power controller on space shuttle Discovery’s main engine number three failed to start during routine checks this morning causing shuttle managers to push the final launch of Discovery back at least 24 hours to Nov. 4. Engineers began troubleshooting the problem – when it appeared to correct itself. Circuit breakers have had problems like this before. However, NASA mission managers wanted to make sure they fully understood what was causing the problems. 

“We make sure we truly understand the risk before we fly,” said Mike Moses, Mission Management Team Chair. “The problem is pretty simple and we wanted to make sure we’re not to aggressive on our response.” 

Teams will work through the night and into Wednesday morning on this problem. To remove the affected circuit is a fairly invasive procedure and some of the circuits involved cannot be retested on the launch pad. If the launch does not occur Thursday NASA has until Sunday to launch before the launch window closes. Currently, Discovery is set to launch Thursday, Nov. 4 at 3:29 p.m. EDT. 

From a crew perspective it made sense to take an additional 24 hours,” said Mike Leinbach, Shuttle Launch Director. “We’ll pick back up with our launch countdown on Thursday morning.” 

Discovery is set to launch on her final, 11-day mission to the International Space Station on mission STS-133. The crew of Discovery consists of Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists; Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Tim Kopra and Michael Barratt. The payload for this mission is the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module which houses among other things the first humanoid robot to fly into space – Robonaut-2. Also onboard is the Express Logistics Carrier-4 and much-needed spare parts.

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