Technicians at Launch Pad 39A began disconnecting space shuttle Discovery’s ground umbilical carrier plate last night by unhooking and lowering the hydrogen vent line that attaches to the plate on the external tank. As the disconnection process continues, they will take a careful step-by-step look and assess repair options. Today, crews will begin removing the seven-inch quick disconnect.
Teams also continue analyzing and inspecting the approximately 20-inch long crack in the external tank’s foam. Tomorrow, technicians expect to begin using terahertz or backscatter scans to see beneath the foam, which will enable them to look for any other potential issues. Plans are still being worked out to reapply foam to the tank after the inspections are completed.
Shuttle managers continue evaluating the data to determine the best repair methods and next launch opportunity for Discovery’s STS-133 mission to the International Space Station, which currently is no earlier than Nov. 30 at 4:02 a.m. EST.