Engineers plan to load the shuttle Endeavour's external tank with rocket fuel July 1 to test vent line fixes intended to stop, or at least reduce, gaseous hydrogen leaks that grounded the shuttle June 13 and 17, NASA officials said Wednesday. If the repairs work, the agency will press ahead with a third attempt to launch Endeavour on a space station assembly mission July 11.
A different sort of problem has cropped up for the shuttle Atlantis, just back from a successful mission to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope. Sources say engineers recently discovered an astronaut work light attachment knob lodged between the inner pressure pane of cockpit window No. 5 and the back of an instrument panel housing.
The knob, used to mount a light on a bracket much like the knob on a tripod holds a camera, floated into a hard-to-see corner of the window area during the mission, when the crew cabin was pressurized to 14.7 pounds per square inch. It apparently got stuck between the inner window pane and the instrument panel housing when Atlantis returned to Earth and the cabin structure shrank slightly.
The knob is now firmly lodged against the inner pressure pane of window No. 5, the sources said. Because of uncertainty about whether the pane has been damaged, the knob must be removed--and the pane confirmed to be structurally sound--before Atlantis can fly again in November.… Read more