Cape Kennedy, Florida -- Over the weekend of 13-14 Nov, technicians at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have been take additional measurements on the ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP) on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank.
And engineers will also discuss upcoming work to repair cracks in Discovery's external tank intertank section, space agency NASA said, 12 Nov.
Discovery's launch on its latest space station mission, initially scheduled for 5 Nov, was aborted when engineers found a leak in the fuel delivery system, part of the GUCP. A later NASA inspection identified cracked insulation foam on the intertank, the area which joins the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks. Removal of the foam identified cracks in the metal underneath the foam, which were thought to be the cause of the foam defects.
During foam removal and inspection of stringers next to the one with two 9-inch cracks, technicians then identified a 3-inch crack on the left-hand adjacent stringer, said NASA. A statement said this was not unexpected, since the load was most likely transferred to the adjacent stringer when both sides of the original stringer cracked during tanking operations for Discovery's scrubbed launch attempt on 5 Nov, NASA pointed out.
Teams will build and use existing structural mathematical models to understand the loading at the interface. Stringers are aluminium support strips on the outside of the external tank that form the section between the inside liquid oxygen tank and the liquid hydrogen tanks.
Meanwhile, the technicians aim to ensure the best possible alignment of the newly installed GUCP. NASA said that teams will evaluate data and now expect to begin installing the flight seal and quick disconnects on 15 Nov.