Thursday, January 31, 2008

Atlantis's kinked flex hose

You may have heard about another issue that could potentially effect launch. There is a kinked flex hose in Atlantis’s Freon coolant system.

It’s not the first time this has occurred on a vehicle, but it was definitely unexpected when it became detected on Atlantis. There are four hoses aboard Atlantis that lead from the Orbiter's fuselage to radiators on the inside of the payload bay doors. The concern with the kinked hose is that launch vibrations, coupled with stress on the line, could cause a leak. Last night, technicians performed x-rays and took some photos and they are currently being evaluated by engineering. Currently, there is no indication of leakage in Atlantis’s hose and when this problem was detected before on Discovery, we flew at least twice with the hose this position. So right now, some labs are doing tests on the hose that was removed from Discovery to clearly understand the condition we have and the threat is poses.

There is a possibility that engineers may be able to manually straighten the hose, but replacing it might not be possible at the launch pad due to access and regulations on releasing Freon into the atmosphere. So it really boils down to either being able to straighten the hose or accepting the risk for flight.
Saturday, NASA managers will announce their decision on whether we will proceed with launch preparations.

However, we’re very optimistic about the ECO sensor system being fixed! Yey!

Liftoff is targeted for 2:45 p.m. on February 7th, 2008.

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