Astronaut and Burlington native Jim Kelly is still earthbound. Kelly is the pilot of space shuttle “Discovery” which was supposed to launch this (Wednesday) afternoon, but the launch was postponed due to a faulty fuel-tank sensor. A former astronaunt, speaking on the NASA channel earlier today, explained what went wrong. “It showed a state of low-level fuel even though we know we have fuel in the tank,” he said. The problem was with one of four fuel-tank sensors on the space shuttle. “Discovery” was supposed to blast-off from Florida in the first shuttle flight since the “Columbia” disaster two-and-a-half years ago. Kelly and the rest of the crew were on board “Discovery” when the launch was scrubbed.
Wayne Hill of NASA described the problem in a briefing with the media.
He says they had a problem in the instrumentation of a low-level sensor in a hydrogen tank. Hill says this was a new tank that had all new wiring. He says they’re in the process of draining the tank to check the sensor.
He says they’re going to see what happen with the sensor with they believe is stuck so it won’t show when the fuel is getting low. He says they’ll have a meeting later tonight and put together a plan. He says Iowan Jim Kelly and the other astronauts will have to wait a couple days at least.
He says their review of their absolute best case scenario led them to decide they would not be able in any conceivable way be ready to launch until Saturday. He says they’re going to go with what the data tells them and be sure they’re safe to fly. The schedule is driven by the position of the international space station and NASA’s desire to hold a daylight liftoff in order to photograph the shuttle during its climb to orbit.