NASA cancels launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Endeavour on launchpad 39A
Image: NASA.

NASA has canceled today's early morning launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour because of a hydrogen fuel leak. The leak was discovered after NASA personnel began to fill Endeavour's external fuel tank.

"The official scrub time was 12:26 a.m. EDT. Launch teams began draining Endeavour's external fuel tank of its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at 12:06 a.m.. Fueling was halted after the leak was detected near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, which attached to the external tank at its intertank area," said NASA in a statement on their website.

Launch for mission STS-127 was scheduled for 7:17 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If NASA fixes the problem in a reasonable period, the next window of opportunity for launch would be at 6:51 a.m Sunday morning. If the problem cannot be solved by then, NASA says the earliest they would be able to re-schedule Endeavor's lift off would be June 17. This would conflict with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)/Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launch. Space Shuttle Discovery will be on standby in case of emergencies and STS-128 could be readied to launch by August 6.

A similar problem in March forced NASA to push back the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery for mission STS-119. The problem was fixed and Discovery was able to take off.

Mission STS-127 is the 32nd flight dedicated to the International Space Station construction, and the final of a series of three flights dedicated to the assembly of the Japanese Kibo laboratory complex. The STS-127 payload is the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility and Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section. The mission is scheduled to last sixteen days.

This trip marks the first time that thirteen people will be on the ISS at the same time. Canada will see two astronauts in space simultaneously, also a first for the nation. Crew members listed to be part of the mission are Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley, astronauts Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Canadian Space Agency's mission specialist Julie Payette, and mission specialists Tom Marshburn and Tim Kopra.