Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NASA: February launch still on despite bad hoses


NASA is still shooting for a shuttle launch next month, regardless of bad hoses for a new room at the space station.

Endeavour is believed to blast off Feb. 7 with the Tranquility module. It's a chamber that will provide extra living quarters at the International Space Station.
Recent tests created a problem with the ammonia coolant lines for the module. The metal braiding on two of the four hoses started separating.

NASA manager Pete Hasbrook said Monday that the California contractor is complaining up the 14-foot high-pressure hoses. The hoses are longer than normal because of a change in location for Tranquility at the orbiting outpost.

At the same occasion, engineers are building new hoses out of old equipment. Hasbrook said either option hopefully will maintain the mission on track. If not, NASA might send up Tranquility in February and fly the enhanced hoses in March. In that occasion much of the equipment, like the treadmill and life support systems, could not be used until the hoses arrived. That's because the machines have to be cooled.

Tranquility—named after the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon—is one of the final major pieces of the Space Station. It will sport a cupola with 7 windows for prime Earth viewing.

NASA determined to change Tranquility's location at the space station, late in the game, to present more flexibility in docking berths, Hasbrook said.

Space station construction is owed to wrap up this year with the retirement of the shuttle fleet. Five more shuttle missions were planned.

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