NASA carries out shuttle tanking test
Posted: Sun, Dec 19, 2010, 10:08 AM ET (1508 GMT)
NASA completed a tanking test of the space shuttle Discovery on Friday with no obvious signs of problems that caused the mission to be delayed for three months. The shuttle's external tank was filled with liquid hydrogen and oxygen during the test, which features a simulated countdown to T-31 seconds, although no one was on board the shuttle. The test was designed to see if a leaking hydrogen vent valve had been fixed, and also to study how cracks may have formed in two aluminum brackets, or "stringers", on the external tank. During the test no hydrogen leak was detected, indicating that repairs to that component were complete. However, officials said it would take some time to analyze data collected by sensors attached to the external tank to study how cracks may have formed. NASA is currently planning to launch Discovery no earlier than February 3, three months later that planned.
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