Devon Island Expedition

Devon Island Expedition
This blog features educational updates on my Devon Island Expedition of July 14-20, 2007. Other sites:,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Launch Delays

I'm at the Orlando airport, after the latest Space Shuttle launch attempt. I am covering this with Miles O'Brien and David Waters, for We are streaming video over the web site, which also features instant updates and chat.

Launch delays are inevitable. While disappointing, everything must be operating correctly before the engines light. This time, it was a bit frustrating, because the weather was perfect, the bird was ready to fly, but we had a problem with a piece of ground support equipment. Anyway, NASA will try again, possibly as early as March 15.

Join us at for live streaming coverage, starting about four hours before launch!

Leroy Chiao


Space Pete said...

Aargh. I hate launch scrubs. Still, better to fix the problem than ignore it.

I didn't know did live coverage - I'll be watching you on Sunday, Dr. Chiao :-)

NASA techs are currently replacing the quick disconnect on the hydrogen vent line to the GUCP. Then re-testing is needed, before STS-119 is cleared to fly.

I hope the launch isn't further delayed to a one EVA mission, or even a delay into April, which would impact future shuttle missions.

Sunday launch is however looking good. The plan has been described by NASA officials as "solid" and there is an 80% chance of acceptable weather conditions.

And an observation of mine: This will be the first time Koichi Wakata will go into space without you, Dr. Chiao - I'm sure he will miss you:)

Anyway, Good luck Discovery!


Did you hear about the debris threat on the ISS? Scary!

Space Pete said...

New information coming to light over hydrogen leak issue:

While installing the replacement quick disconnect, technicians discovered that the GUCP was not properly aligned with the ET.

Quote from
"The left and right pivot seat was not fully connecting to the external tank's pin receptacle sleeve at the bottom of the GUCP. Crews now are in the process of checking alignments and making adjustments to get a proper fit. Leak checks will be performed following the adjustments".

In simplified terms: The problem may not be with the connection between the hydrogen vent line and the GUCP as originally thought, instead, problem looks like it is with the connection between the GUCP & the ET.

Space Pete said...

Correction on previous post:

Prelaunch news conference now saying that the GUCP misalignment with the ET is NOT related to hydrogen leak, so quick disconnect may indeed still be that cause of the hydrogen leak.

Space Pete said...

WOW! I just watched the STS-119 launch. Beautiful. I saw you on's webcast, Dr. Chiao :-)

I'm sure you must feel a jealousy of some sort, watching the Shuttle streak into the sky, especially a shuttle you once flew on yourself, Dr. Chiao.

Overall, a fantastic launch! Glad there were no issues. I am now looking forward to a good mission.


David Waters said...

What a team. I'm so glad we got to work together on the coverage for Spaceflight Now. I will definitely be seeing you again...Great job!