Sun, Feb 22, 2009
Flow Control Valve Concern Requires More Study
During a thorough review of space shuttle Discovery's readiness
for flight, NASA managers decided Friday more data and possible
testing are required before proceeding to launch. Engineering teams
have been working to identify what caused damage to a flow control
valve on shuttle Endeavour during its November 2008 flight.
As ANN reported, NASA found one of those
valves damaged in Endeavour after that shuttle's mission in
November. As a precaution, Discovery's valves were removed,
inspected and reinstalled. It's not clear yet what the nature of
the problem is.
"We need to complete more work to have a better understanding
before flying," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for
Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Gerstenmaier
chaired Friday's Flight Readiness Review.
"We were not driven by schedule pressure and did the right
thing. When we fly, we want to do so with full confidence."
The shuttle has three flow control valves that channel gaseous
hydrogen from the main engines to the external fuel tank. Teams
also have tried to determine the consequences if a valve piece were
to break off and strike part of the shuttle and external fuel
The Space Shuttle Program has been asked to develop a plan to
inspect additional valves similar to those installed on Discovery.
This plan will be reviewed during a meeting on Wednesday, February
25. Afterward, the setting of a new target launch date may be
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