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November 18, 2010

Shuttle Discovery Final Launch Coming No Sooner than December 3rd: NASA

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By: BNO News
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Space Shuttle Discovery launch Kennedy Space Center
NASA on Thursday said that the launch of the final mission of the space shuttle Discovery will take place no earlier than December 3 as necessary repairs have not been completed.

The decision was made at the Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) in which the Space Shuttle Program clearly identified the analysis and repairs that are required to safely launch the space shuttle on its STS-133 mission.

A special PRCB will be hold on November 24 to review the analysis and repairs. If the review of the flight rationale is successful, a Launch Status Briefing would be held with senior NASA management on November 29.

The NASA Kennedy Space Center’s “Call-to-Stations” to begin launch countdown will be no earlier than November 30. Also, a first launch attempt will be made no earlier than December 3. The final mission of the shuttle Discovery has been delayed on repeated occasions due to leaks.

On October 29, helium and nitrogen leaks were discovered in the pressurization portion of Discovery‘s right-hand Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod causing the delay of the launch which was scheduled for November 1.

The 11-day mission, STS-133, will be Discovery‘s final scheduled flight. Its crew, consisting of six astronauts, will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the ISS. The PMM was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo and will provide additional storage for the station crew.

In the module, astronauts will be able to conduct experiments in fields such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. In addition, the PMM carries Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space, which will become a permanent resident of the space station.

The mission will also deliver critical spare parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment. STS-133 is the fourth and final shuttle mission planned for 2010; it is also Discovery‘s 39th flight and the 35th shuttle mission to the space station.