By August 15, 2005

Discovery to fly home soon

The space shuttle Discovery could fly back “home” to her Florida base by the middle of the week, Nasa is currently making final plans to fly it back from California on a specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). Preparing and loading the shuttle has gone ahead of schedule according to Nasa.

The preperation and return flight will cost Nasa upwards of $1,000,000!

Persistent bad weather at Discovery’s intended landing site in Florida forced Nasa to bring it down at Edwards Air Force Base, California, last week.

Nasa officials said this “ferry flight” is now expected to occur no earlier than 16 August, but added that this could change.

After a perfect landing on 9 August, Discovery was towed to Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.

There, the shuttle was placed in its Mate-Demate Device, a large gantry-like structure used to service the vehicle and eventually mount it atop the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA) that will fly it home.

The technicians spent Friday drying the main engines and their associated plumbing to purge them of residual liquids.

They spent the rest of the weekend draining the shuttle’s liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel tanks and removing hazardous monomethyl hydrazine fuel from the shuttle’s propulsion system.

Meanwhile inspections of heat shield tiles, panels and protective blankets that protect the shuttle, are on-going. The section of damaged themal blanket has now been removed for analysis.

Last week, the agency said it was unlikely to complete the fix in time for a scheduled September flight of shuttle Atlantis. I’m not sure if this means that Atlantis will launch without the fix or that the launch will be put back until suitable fix can be made.


(Images: SpacePIX)

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More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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