All systems are go for space shuttle Discovery’s launch later Tuesday morning at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the first shuttle launch since the Columbia Disaster two-and-a-half years ago.
After a false-start 13 days ago, the space agency is ready to try again today, hoping from the best from the shuttle itself and the weather around Cape Canaveral. The culprit July 12th was a faulty sensor in the shuttle’s external fuel tank, which gave flight controllers a false reading. NASA’s Katherine Trinandad says engineers are confident Discovery will be fine with three functional sensors.
She says the shuttle only needs two sensors to operate safely and that flight controllers fully expect the faulty sensor to work properly today.
The seven-person STS-114 crew is led by commander Eileen Collins, who’s a veteran of three space flights. Pilot James Kelly flew Discovery on a mission to the International Space Station in 2001. The 12-day mission is officially referred to as a test flight, but will include other utility operations.
Trinadad says even if the shuttle is sound mechanically, Mother Nature could cause a delay.
Space shuttle astronauts will accelerate from a standstill at the launch pad to over 17,000 miles per hour in just over 8 minutes. Discovery was also the return to flight orbitor in 1988 after the Challenger tragedy in 1986.