Randy Moss has taken a backseat in the news to even bigger news stories. The launch of the space shuttle Discovery was postponed once more on Friday, November 5th, the fourth delay of the flight this week. This time the delay was caused by a hydrogen leak, and Discovery is not expected to blast off for its 39th and final mission until at least November 30th thanks to the cancellation. The shuttle launch was called off about seven hours before its scheduled time, which was around thee in the afternoon EDT. The mission of Discovery is to deliver cargo to the International Space Station which is still under construction.
Leaks Ground Discovery Once More
Discovery has been in service to NASA for more than a quarter of a century, and has been involved in more than three dozen space missions. As liquid hydrogen flowed into its fuel tank, a leak developed in a venting system. This same problem showed up before and NASA engineers thought they had actually solved the problem last year but this time the leak was more substantial. This is just another sign of all the wear and tear shuttles go through when they are sent into space. It is hard to keep on top of everything but scientists and engineers try to do just that for the sake of safety and completing missions successfully.
Fuel Tank Foam Crack
NASA engineers have also been working on trying to assess and repair a fuel tank crack, which might have actually forced a delay of the shuttle launch even without the hydrogen leak issue. This has been an area of scrutiny ever since another shuttle went down with a similar issue. When Discovery lifts off, it will bring assorted materials that are needed for the International Space Station. Some of these things include storage pods and spare parts.
Bad weather had forced a delay on the previous day. Other problems since the first scheduled launch date have forced two other cancellations. This flight is one of the last planned for the shuttle program. After this part of the space program is retired, NASA is going to focus more of its money on getting technology together to fly rockets to asteroids and to Mars. The space station will only have Russian spacecraft able to reach it after the final U.S. shuttle launch. This will mark the end of an era in the nation's space exploration program one that has cost trillions of dollars over the years, but has yielded some amazing new knowledge of our place in the universe. That's enough money to buy a whole lot of groceries and car insurance and truck insurance quotes, but it is clear that some good has come from what started out as a space race between the superpowers in the middle of the 20th century.
Any future shuttle launch attempts before the shuttle program is scrapped will be treated with the same amount of caution as has characterized this launch. NASA has seen its share of problems but overall has demonstrated a good track record given the extreme dangers associated with this kind of work. Every successful shuttle launch has been a testament to the organization's commitment to research and testing. This is actually something that drivers can maybe even learn from. Doing a little preflight testing before you launch your car from the garage in the morning is a good idea. Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy before you leave the house and you can avoid a lot of troubles that afflict us as motorists out on the roads. As we await the shuttle launch and Discovery's final flight we anticipate what's coming next.