Discovery shuttle hits another delay
The much-postponed final mission of the ageing US space shuttle Discovery has hit another delay, NASA officials said Thursday, dpa reported.
The earliest launch date will now be December 3, NASA said in a statement. That's three days into the most recent launch window of November 30-December 6.
The reason: Continuing technical problems that demand "more analysis," NASA said.
Earlier this week, NASA discovered a fourth crack on Discovery's external fuel tank. Fuel tank repairs are normally done in the factory, not on the launch pad, complicating the task.
Discovery, the fleet's oldest spacecraft, was grounded earlier this month during the launch countdown after a fuel line leak was discovered. Repairs for that problem are also under way.
NASA experts will next meet on Wednesday to determine the way forward, and the launch countdown will begin "no earlier than NOvember 30," meaning the earliest launch attempt would be December 3.
The US shuttle fleet has one more mission after Discovery before retiring the programme. Astronauts will then travel to and from the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.