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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
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Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by canaveralgumby on 12 July 2005 6:18pm
Storm Threat Rises for Discovery’s Launch Day
12 July 2005, 11:30 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The weather outlook for the July 13 launch of NASA’s space shuttle Discovery has deteriorated slightly, with thunderstorms predicted for as late as an hour before the intended space shot, shuttle weather trackers said Tuesday.

NASA weather officers are now predicting a 40 percent chance that thunderstorms and other poor weather could violate flight rules for Discovery’s 3:51 p.m. EDT (1951 GMT) launch Wednesday. The threat of storms is up 10 percent from Monday, they added.

“We are expecting some thunderstorms and showers,” said shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters during a countdown update here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). “We may even go red during the countdown.”

Winters said that storm activity is expected to clear by about 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), and will hopefully abate enough to meet flight restrictions around KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility, where Discovery and its STS-114 astronaut crew would have to return in the event of a launch emergency. Flight rules call for a 20-mile storm-free perimeter around the facility to launch, she added.

Space shuttle officials said Discovery is still performing well with just over 24 hours remaining before liftoff. The shuttle’s STS-114 mission is NASA’s first shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia accident. [snip]
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by perfectbitch on 12 July 2005 7:02pm
I hope the weather holds and the mission is successful. I have followed the space programme(s) since a child in the 50's and still get a thrill whenever a rocket is launched. I would dearly love to see a live launch and I envy you your job. God speed to the crew.
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by Simonpro on 13 July 2005 1:20pm
I, too, am getting rather excited about the upcoming mission. I work in the space industry (on unmanned satellites, not manned monstrosities like the shuttle ;) ) and there's a definate buzz about this. Hopefully it'll allow everyone to get back on track - the US has sorely missed the shuttle over the last few years.
Still don't think it'll fly today though - more like Friday, last minute cancellation is my bet, but 'll happily be proved wrong!
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by George on 13 July 2005 9:58pm
Canaveral, I hope you're not responsible for the faulty fuel guage. Did anybody just tap it a couple of times, just to see if it was stuck? Really, we're a little disappointed, but understand, of course. BTW, what is your job there?

We have a family friend who's a new engineer with NASA and he works with the safety team. Naturally, he's very excited to get the shuttle back in operation, so the space station can be finished, and then on to the stars!
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by canaveralgumby on 14 July 2005 11:56pm

This today from SPACE.com:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA engineers are attempting to root out the cause of a sensor glitch that scrubbed Wednesday’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

Pad engineers drained Discovery’s fuel-filled external tank of its super-chilled liquid propellant late Wednesday after a sensor sent errant signals to flight controllers during a countdown check.

“All I can say is shucks,” said Wayne Hale, NASA’s deputy shuttle program manager, during a press briefing after the failed launch. “We came out here all ready to go here today…and we incurred a problem.”

Discovery’s launch, slated for today at 3:50:53 p.m. EDT (1950:53 GMT), is now delayed until Saturday, July 16 at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1840 GMT) at the earliest, NASA officials said.

“That’s probably the very best case scenario,” Hale said.

Earlier, NASA chief Michael Griffin told reporters that Discovery’s STS-114 spaceflight – the space agency’s first attempt to resume shuttle operations since the Columbia disaster – could slip to Monday if not later.


Sorry, George, I didn't mean to mislead that I have a job at NASA! I meant it's my job to post Cape Canaveral news on palinstravels, since I am Canaveralgumby. Sorry!

Is your friend an employee of NASA or of one of its contractors?

My husband is an IS/Network Engineer contracted to the Air Force at Patrick AFB. Mostly they are concerned with unmanned rocket launches and satellite data retrieval. And really good cook-outs.

Alas, I am but a lowly photo-lab assistant. And probably not for long, because a small business can't afford $80-100K to re-fit for digital photography like Wal-Mart can.
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by Ken Dunn on 15 July 2005 3:41pm
I was going to liken the delayed shuttle launch to the British rail trains which have a reputation for being late but that is very unfair. The overriding criteria in the shuttle mission is its success no matter how long it takes to sort out any problems there are with all the systems required to make it a safe craft for the astronauts.
And, Canaveralgumby, you stick to your photolab career because I think there is nothing to beat a good SLR camera that produces excellent hand round photographs that can all be viewed very easily. I don't know of any digital photograph that can compare with a good 20" x 16" enlargement from a 35mm negative.
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by George on 16 July 2005 6:56am
Canaveralgumby, sorry to hear your photo-lab job may be coming to an end. I'm very well aware of all the new technology that's replacing the traditional developing business. All the big chain drug stores like Walgreens have the new digital processing equipment as well.

I took pictures at my son's graduation last month with him hugging all his friends, etc. I came home, plugged my digital camera into my computer, and, using Photo Shop, printed out copies on Kodak photo paper, within a hour, for him to hand out to his friends. The speed is great, but the quality wasn't. The new digital stuff is improving, but it has a ways to go yet, IMO. It sort of reminded me of the pictures you'd get from an old Kodak Instamatic. They're OK, but not family album quality. I'm not ready to throw away my Canon AE1 by any means.

My friend, Sean, who works down there is an actual NASA engineer who has been envolved with the new safety equipment that has been developed since the Columbia disaster. If everything goes well, and it will, he'll be coming back here to Houston at some point to begin designing safety equipment on the next generation of launch vehicles with Boeing, I believe.

I once ask him, how soon after the Columbia accident did they realise it was a problem with the tiles? He said, they knew what happened almost immediately, but there was no way anyone could have predicted when they would fail. So, they had to go through the motions of a huge investigation before they could launch another shuttle.
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by canaveralgumby on 16 July 2005 10:52pm
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – With an exact launch date for their STS-114 mission still up in the air, seven space shuttle astronauts are hanging tight here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the spaceflight’s commander said in a statement released Saturday.

"My crew will remain in quarantine for the near future, maintaining our proficiency for this mission,” said veteran astronaut Eileen Collins, commander of STS-114 mission aboard the shuttle Discovery, in the statement. “We are keeping in close touch with the troubleshooting plan; we have confidence that the best people are working it.”

Shuttle officials said that they may be able to launch Discovery late next week, but only if engineers get lucky and are able to find and fix the sensor system glitch soon. But that’s not set in stone, and launch officials plan instead to launch the shuttle mission four days after a fix is made, they added.

Twelve teams of engineers gathered from across the country are working through the weekend to solve an external tank fuel sensor anomaly that cropped up during Discovery’s July 13 launch countdown and forced mission managers to scrub the attempted space shot. But on Friday, shuttle program managers said they still did not know if the glitch was with the fuel level sensor itself, the complicated electronics box it reports to aboard Discovery or the lengthy wiring that runs between the two.

Collins said the plan developed by engineers to track the glitch “is impressive, and we are very proud of the work they are doing!”

Collins and her six STS-114 crewmates were strapping into their seats aboard Discovery when flight controllers scrubbed the launch attempt.

A liquid hydrogen fuel level sensor near the base of the orbiter’s propellant-filled external tank had failed a standard countdown test, in which all four of the sensors are forced to falsely report ‘dry’ indicating an empty tank.

The faulty engine cutoff (ECO) sensor reported a ‘wet’ reading, or a full tank. All four of the sensors must perform properly in preflight checks in order to launch, since they track dwindling fuel levels during launch and allow Discovery’s main engines to shut down before running out of fuel. If the engines continue to fire without propellant, it could spell disaster for the mission.


George, I spent my tax return last year on a Nikon Coolpix 8700 8.0 megapixel. It's my favorite inanimate possesion! Eventually, as with all electronics, the technology will become excellent and less expensive. Personally I can't wait for the home printer we can make 11x14 and 16x20 prints on!

Tell Sean we all thank him and appreciate the work he (and they) are doing. Tell him you talk to someone on the internet who lives in Ocean Woods :^)
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by intrepid on 17 July 2005 4:30pm
I had a student who's going to visit some relatives in Texas this month, and along the way was going to do a heck of a lot of travelling in the Southern US. He had hoped that he'd be in Florida for the launch. I wonder if he will be.
And I hope they catch whoever it was who was syphoning rocket fuel.
Re: Shuttle Discovery Update (It's My Job...) by George on 17 July 2005 9:07pm
Intrepid, unless someone had a fleet of those hydrogen powered busses to refuel, I can't imagine why anyone would want to steal the rocket fuel. Where would he hide it?

Canaveral, my wife just bought an HP Photosmart 4800 off of the QVC home shopping network for $134. Just plug in your camera and the pictures come out stunning. It only prints 4x6 notecard size pictures though. The paper is not cheap and neither is the print cartridge, but it's OK for special occaisions I guess.
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