One Less Shuttle Flight This Year

Sep 17, 2007 7:07pm

This just in from Gina Sunseri in Houston: A hydraulic leak in the landing gear of Space Shuttle Discovery threatens to delay the launch of the next flight, STS-120, which had been scheduled for October 23rd. Sources also tell ABC News external tank issues–the ongoing questions about foam and ice breaking loose during launch–will most likely push the flight after that, STS-122, from December 2007 into January 2008. STS-120 and STS-122 are two of the 14 flights scheduled to finish and supply the International Space Station before the shuttle quits flying in July of 2010.  To meet that target, NASA will have to launch six shuttles in 2008, six in 2009, and two in 2010.
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Note added Tuesday morning: Thanks for your comments.  I’ve spoken with Gina; she says her sources tell her there’s a fair amount of foam on the external tank for STS-122 that needs to be removed and reapplied.  Combine that with the potential squeeze caused by STS-120 issues, and managers may decide not to rush to make a December launch window, which was less than a week long anyhow.  It’s a complicated business….

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