Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Countdown Progresses Toward Discovery's Launch

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 10:10:08 AM CST

Space shuttle Discovery continues to move toward launch Thursday, Feb. 24, as technicians put the finishing touches on the spacecraft and the launch team runs through the countdown checklist. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. EST. The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time.

A minor problem came up when a regulator in the reactant storage system developed a slight leak, NASA Test Director Steve Payne said.

"In this case, we've seen it before," Payne said, adding that the system has numerous redundancies and the leak is so small. A waiver is to be completed soon and no impact to the countdown or launch is expected.

This is the last flight of Discovery, and with the shuttle program nearing retirement, Payne said crowds are growing to see the last launches.

"People are starting to realize they either see one now or they don’t get to see one," Payne said.

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