Weather Conspires to Push Launch of Discovery to Nov. 5

Stormy weather has delayed STS-133's launch to NET Nov. 5. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace/Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL — Discovery’s final flight faced its first hurdle in the form of a fuel leak in its right OMS pod. This problem seemed solved, but using an over-abundance of caution mission managers had the seals around the affected flange replaced. Then unrelated leaks of hydrogen and helium pushed the launch back to Nov. 2 and then Nov. 3. With that problem resolved many thought Discovery’s problems were behind her – enter a voltage issue in the number three engine’s backup control system. This conspired to push the launch back to Nov. 4. 

However, in the early morning hours of Nov. 4 it was obvious that Florida’s turbulent weather would not allow a launch on this day and mission managers scrubbed the launch for at least 24 hours. Weather for Friday shows a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions. If Discovery is launched tomorrow it will take place at 3:04 p.m. EDT.

Discovery’s final mission, STS-133, will deliver the Leonardo Multipurpose Module (PMM) with its cargo – including the first humanoid robot to be sent into space – Robonaut-2 (R2). Also riding along on this mission is the Express Logistics Carrier-4 and spare parts. Like the other remaining shuttle flights, these new components and supplies are designed to leave the space station better prepared for when the space shuttles are retired next year. 

The crew of STS-133 will be comprised of Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists; Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Tim Kopra and Michael Barratt. All of these astronauts are space flight veterans.

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