Discovery launch pushed to Friday
NASA has rescheduled the launch of the space shuttle Discovery to early Friday morning after two earlier attempts this week were aborted.
Discovery and its seven-person crew were scheduled to lift-off early Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a 13-day flight to the International Space Station to deliver supplies and a new crew member.
But Tuesday's launch was cancelled because of poor weather and Wednesday's early morning launch was put off after an apparently faulty fuel valve was discovered.
The launch has been rescheduled for 12:22 a.m. ET Friday. On his Twitter page, Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang wrote a second attempt could be scheduled for late Friday night at 11:59 p.m. ET.
NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said the valve in question controls the flow of hydrogen from the external fuel tank to the shuttle's main engines.
Last month's Endeavour mission, carrying Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, was postponed several times because of bad weather at the launch site.
Bringing supplies to space station
NASA has said that Aug. 30 is the deadline to get Discovery into space. If it does not leave by then, the mission could be pushed back to October because there are other scheduled launches from Japan and Russia to the International Space Station.
U.S. Commander Rick Sturckow heads the Discovery crew, which will deliver almost 8,000 kilograms of equipment and supplies to the station during the mission.
Also scheduled to fly to the station are pilot Kevin Ford, mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Danny Olivas, Jose Hernandez and Nicolle Stott, all from the United States, and mission specialist Crister Fuglesang from Sweden.
Olivas will perform three spacewalks on the mission, one with Stott and two with Fuglesang.
Stott will replace American Tim Kopra and join Canadian Robert Thirsk and the other four members of the space station crew. Kopra is scheduled to return to Earth with the rest of Discovery's crew.
Among the equipment making the trip into orbit is a treadmill named for U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert. Earlier in the year, Colbert encouraged viewers of his satirical TV program, The Colbert Report, to vote in an online contest to name a future space station room after him. Colbert won the contest, but NASA instead chose to name the piece of exercise equipment after him.