Electricity generator problem assessed
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: September 6, 2006 @ 2:48 a.m. EDT;
Updated at 3:55 a.m. with scrub
NASA managers stopped the shuttle Atlantis' countdown early today and put launch on hold for at least 24 hours because of problems with one of the ship's three electricity producing fuel cells.
Engineers are continuing to troubleshoot the issue in hopes of getting Atlantis off the ground Thursday or Friday, the end of the current launch window. But if the powerplant has to be replaced, NASA could be forced to haul Atlantis back to its hangar for repairs, a move that would delay launch several weeks.
Earlier update from 2:48 a.m.:
Engineers at the Kennedy Space Center are troubleshooting a problem with fuel cell No. 1 aboard the shuttle Atlantis. The loading of rocket fuel is on hold and if the problem is not resolved by 4 a.m. or so, today's launch attempt likely will be scrubbed, officials said.
The shuttle is equipped with three electricity producing fuel cells that combine oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity. All three must be operating normally for a countdown to proceed.
During powerup early today, a problem showed up in fuel cell No. 1's phase A power bus, one of three power sources within the device. Engineers may shut down and restart the powerplant in a bid to clear the problem or at least understand the unexpected "signature."
Launch remains targeted for 12:29 p.m., assuming the fuel cell problem can be resolved by 4 a.m. or so. Updates will be posted here as new information becomes available.
The official crew patch for the STS-115 mission of space shuttle Atlantis to resume orbital construction of the International Space Station.
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