Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Delayed Due to Engine Issue

By Wesley Roberts •  Updated: 02/04/09 •  2 min read

The launch of Space Shuttle Discovery was originally slated for February 12th, but has now been postponed to February 19th – at the earliest. The change of launch dates were decided by NASA managers during a review of the shuttle’s flow control valve in the main engine.

The new date is pending further analysis of the flow control valve and everything checking out okay for pre-flight tests.

The valve is one of three that channels gaseous hydrogen from the engines to the external fuel tank. One of these valves in the shuttle Endeavour was found to be damaged after its mission in November. As a precaution, Discovery’s valves were removed, inspected, and reinstalled.

STS-119 Mission

Discovery’s STS-119 14-day mission will deliver the station’s fourth and final set of solar arrays, completing the orbiting laboratory’s truss, or backbone. The arrays will provide the electricity to fully power science experiments and support the station’s expanded crew of six in May.

Altogether, the station’s 240-foot-long arrays can generate as much as 120 kilowatts of usable electricity — enough to provide about forty-two 2,800-square-foot homes with power.

Discovery also will carry a replacement distillation assembly for the station’s new water recycling system. The unit is part of the Urine Processing Assembly that removes impurities from urine in an early stage of the recycling process.

The Water Recovery System was delivered and installed during the STS-126 mission in November, but the unit failed after Endeavour’s departure.

Space Station Assembly And Maintenance

Joining Archambault on STS-119 will be Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, Richard Arnold, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Wakata will replace Sandra Magnus aboard the station. She will return home with the Discovery crew after three months in space.

Former science teachers Acaba and Arnold are now fully-trained NASA astronauts. They will make their first journey to orbit on the mission and step outside the station to conduct critical spacewalking tasks.

STS-119 will be Discovery’s 36th mission and the 28th shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Keep Reading