Shuttle Takes on Cargo

March 24th, 2010

From Florida Today

Kennedy Space Center workers today plan to install more than 15 tons of cargo inside shuttle Discovery in preparation for an April 5 launch, a date that could be made official during Friday’s flight readiness review at the spaceport.

Shuttle program managers met Tuesday to discuss results from weekend tests that confirmed the health of helium regulators needed to fire steering jets on Discovery’s right, rear side.

The regulators became more critical after engineers determined a helium tank valve became stuck fully or partially open during the loading of propellants earlier this month.

“The testing over the weekend gave (managers) even more confidence in the health of the regulators, which is the most important factor in that system,” Kyle Herring said. “This is one of the more redundant systems on the entire vehicle.”

The stuck valve wouldn’t prevent a launch or threaten the safety of Discovery’s crew, Herring said, but could cut short a planned 13-day mission to re-supply the International Space Station under failure scenarios considered unlikely.

The valve could only be replaced by rolling Discovery off its launch pad, causing a lengthy mission delay.

Managers will discuss one other special issue during Friday’s readiness review: the performance of ceramic inserts stuck between protective tiles on portions of the orbiter. One came loose near a window during Endeavour’s recent flight.

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