CAPE CANAVERAL — For a while there it almost appeared that Discovery would launch on Dec. 3, 2010 – but it was not to be. NASA mission managers have rescheduled space shuttle Discovery’s final flight for no earlier than Dec. 17. This decision was made because shuttle managers determined more tests and analysis were needed before proceeding with the flight of STS-133.
Due to this, the launch status meeting that was planned for Monday, Nov. 29, has been postponed.
On Wednesday the Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) looked over repairs and engineering evaluations relating to the cracks on two 21-foot-long, aluminum brackets, called stringers. These stringers are located on the shuttle’s external tank (ET).
Managers determined that the analysis and tests required to safely launch space shuttle Discovery have not been completed. As such technicians will continue to work the problem through next week.
The next scheduled status review by the PRCB will take place on Thursday, Dec. 2. If mission managers clear the shuttle for launch on Dec. 17, the preferred time will be around 8:51 p.m. EDT.
Discovery’s final mission will deliver the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module containing among other things the first humanoid robot to fly into space – Robonaut-2 (R2). Also on this mission is the Express Logistics Carrier-4, SpaceX’s DragonEye sensor and much needed spare parts for the space station.