Next shuttle mission faces changes due to payload issue
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: January 8, 2010
Problems with ammonia lines and connectors needed to route cooling to and from a new space station module scheduled for launch aboard the shuttle Endeavour Feb. 7 could force NASA managers to modify or delay the assembly flight, sources said Friday.
Sources said senior managers have ruled out delaying Endeavour's launching until after a flight currently scheduled for mid March.
Endeavour and a crew of six are currently scheduled for launch at 4:39 a.m. EST on Feb. 7 to deliver node 3, or Tranquility, to the International Space Station. Tranquility, attached to the left side of the central Unity module, will house critical life support equipment and exercise gear currently housed in other station modules.
Those systems require cooling and the module was designed to be connected to the station's external ammonia coolant loops.
As a result, custom hoses were ordered to compensate for the offset. During a ground test this week, a hose ruptured below the expected threshold. The failure occurred at a much higher than normal pressure, but engineers are looking into the issue to find out what might be needed to resolve the matter.
Endeavour was hauled to the pad Wednesday and there are no problems with the spacecraft that would preclude an on-time launch. Sources said senior managers have ruled out rolling Endeavour back to the Vehicle Assembly Building and proceeding instead with the next flight in the sequence.
Space station engineers and managers plan to discuss the issue in more detail Tuesday.