U.S. shuttle launch delayed to Friday

22:05, November 04, 2010      

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The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has delayed Thursday morning's launch of space shuttle Discovery to Friday due to bad weather at Kennedy Space Center, the latest in a series of postponements.

Rain was pounding the area, and meteorologists said there was little chance the weather would break in time for Thursday's planned launch.

"There is a no go for 24 hours because of the weather," a spokesman at Kennedy Space Center said.

Launch was now set for 3:03 pm (1903 GMT) Friday, with weather forecasts showing a 60-percent chance of favorable conditions, NASA said.

Discovery was supposed to lift off Monday, but gas leaks and a problem with a backup controller for one of the shuttle's three main engines forced a three-day delay. Each of the main shuttle engines has both a primary and backup computerized controller that serve as electronic brains. They are critical parts that must work perfectly before going ahead with a launch.

NASA has until Nov. 7 to launch Discovery. Otherwise the flight will be pushed to December because of unacceptable sun angles, which are needed to power both the International Space Station, where it is headed, and the docked shuttle.

The 11-day mission is the Discovery program's final scheduled flight, and the fourth and final shuttle mission planned for 2010.

The six astronauts for the mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the station. Two space walks, for maintenance work and component installation, are scheduled.

The PMM was converted from the multipurpose logistics module Leonardo and will provide additional storage for the station crew. Experiments in such fields as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology can be conducted inside the module.

The PMM also carries Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space, which will become a permanent resident of the station. In addition, the flight will deliver critical spare parts and an external platform that holds large equipment.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:燕勐)

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