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Discovery mission delayed by at least one week

Latest update : 2009-02-04

Originally scheduled for February 12, space shuttle Discovery's mission to the International Space Station has been delayed by at least one week, NASA said Tuesday. Additional testing of a flow control valve will be performed next week.

AFP - The space shuttle Discovery's mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed at least one week to February 19 for additional testing of a flow control valve, NASA said Tuesday.

The Discovery had been scheduled for blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 12. But during a flight readiness review, "NASA managers decided Tuesday to plan a launch no earlier than February 19," the space agency said.

The valve, one of three that channel gaseous hydrogen from the shuttle engines to the external fuel tank, needed more "analysis and particle impact testing," NASA said in a statement.

The shuttle's valves have come under close scrutiny after a valve aboard space shuttle Endeavour was found to be damaged after its 16-day mission in November to the orbiting ISS.

"As a precaution, Discovery's valves were removed, inspected and reinstalled. The Space Shuttle Program will convene a meeting on February 10 to assess the analysis," the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

"On February 12," it added, "NASA managers and contractors will continue the flight readiness review, which began Tuesday, to address the flow control valve issue and to select an official launch date."

Discovery's STS-119 mission is to take seven astronauts to the ISS to continue building the space station. The mission is set to fly the S6 starboard truss segment and a new station crew member to the orbital outpost.

The S6 truss, with its set of large US solar arrays, "will complete the backbone of the station and provide one-fourth of the total power needed to support a crew of six," NASA said.

The ISS is scheduled to be completed in 2010, also the target date for the retirement of the US fleet of three space shuttles.

Date created : 2009-02-04

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