Thursday, December 6, 2007

STS-122 Launch Scrub Press Conference...

Actually, it was a quick status briefing and not a press conference. There is not yet much information, so they had not to tell a lot. The scrub of Atlantis STS-122 launch attempt on December, 6th has been confirmed once again. Neither Atlantis nor Columbus, its primary payload, will launch into space today. The next launch attempt will be no earlier than tomorrow, but may be farther delayed.

The problem is related to two ECO sensors which had invalid readings. This type of problem is typically discovered late in the countdown, while tanking (that same type of problem prevented me from seeing the STS-115 launch in 2006...). There are four of these sensors.

Space Shuttle ECO Sensor during Testing.

ECO Sensors in a Test Setting

Troubleshooting is currently underway. They will send out an inspection team to do a quick evaluation of the external tank status. This will take around an hour and a half. There is a technical meeting at noon, where options will be discussed. At 2pm, there is a mission management team meeting, which will decide on how to continue forward. A press conference on the outcome of that meeting is expected no earlier than 4pm.

The firing room guys will work on a routine that provides a 24-hour turnaround. From their point of view, a December, 7th launch is a possibility. However, it is yet uncertain if it is also a possibility when looking at the big picture. So if the missing management team gives a "go" for Saturday, this can be done. If that would be the case, the launch attempt will be at 4:09pm tomorrow (each attempt is roughly 30 minutes earlier than the previous one).

Space Shuttle Atlantis sitting at the Pad after the December, 6th launch scrub.
Atlantis sitting at the Pad after the December, 6th launch scrub

STS-122 unfortunately has a very narrow launch window. It extends just 7 days and possibly one more day if the mission duration is shortened by one day. Even more unfortunate, NASA was hoping for a two-day mission extension to help troubleshoot solar array problems on the international space station.

I will post any updates when I receive them.
But I guess I won't have much more solid information before the end of the 4pm press conference. BTW: all times are EST.

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1 comment:

Armando Perdomo said...

Ohh now I have a dilemma. I stopped to drink a coffee and I just read your message. I am in the middle of my trip to Cape Canaveral, so I ahve a dilemma. Drive 200 miles or 600 miles. Remember that I have to return back to Miami today.

I believe I'll wait here for one hour finding more information about this issue. Plesae, if you have more info send it to me to You will help me a lot.

Cheers, Armando