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Coolant problem could hamper shuttle mission
Posted: Sat, Mar 2, 2002, 12:01 AM ET (0501 GMT)
STS-109 patch (NASA) A problem with a coolant line on the space shuttle Columbia could pose problems for the mission, but shuttle managers said late Friday it was unlikely it would bring the mission to an early end. Controllers noticed several hours after launch that one Freon coolant loop, used to cool Columbia's electronics, had a flow rate that had fallen to near the minimum acceptable level. Mission rules require that the shuttle have a fully-working coolant system, so that if, in the worst case, the loop failed, the shuttle would have to return home at the earliest possible opportunity. However, mission managers met late Friday and determined that it would be safe to leave the shuttle in orbit through Saturday while they continue to study the problem. Officials will likely decide at a Saturday afternoon meeting whether to proceed with the mission or bring the shuttle back to Earth. Columbia is scheduled to rendezvous with and grapple Hubble in the early morning hours Sunday.
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