NASA won't launch Discovery until at least February 3
December 3rd, 2010
12:15 PM ET

NASA won't launch Discovery until at least February 3

NASA says the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery has now tentatively been moved to no earlier than February 3rd.

The launch, originally scheduled to blast off on November 5, has been plagued with technical problems delaying the mission.

Discovery's departure has been delayed several times because of bad weather, gas leaks, electrical glitches and cracks found on the shuttle's external fuel tank.

The voyage is expected to be the last for Discovery as NASA prepares to retire the shuttle fleet.


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Filed under: Shuttle • Space
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Captain Sarcasm


    December 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Red Shuttle ...

      several repairs and delays clearly show that Discovery is in VERY BAD shape and that launch it is TOO DANGEROUS for the astronauts!!!
      so, could someone of the Press ask your President and to the NASA administrator to STOP the Discovery's launch and the full Shuttle program NOW before it's too late???

      December 3, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1creator

      Don't fear, God is with them.

      December 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aeromechanic.

    Anybody still think we should continue to use the shuttles until we have a replacement? These things are pieces of junk. And no, I am not just saying that.......I have first hand experience as a technician who has assembled and overhauled many of the components and subassemblies on each of the shuttles.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I take it you're a disgruntle employee who soon going to be out of a job? By the way the space shuttle wasn't junk to start with, but the problem is NASA carried the program on way longer that they should have.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      I don't work for NASA or United Space Alliance. I work for a prime contractor that has product on almost every aircraft in use. We are heavily into defense, so my job is very secure. You are correct that the shuttle were great to begin with. They are just long in the tooth and obsolete, not to mention dangerous.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Then surely you realize that these problems that they're having are related to the primary fuel tank, something that is not retained mission-to-mission. The shuttle itself is doing just fine, they could fly them forever.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      No John, the shuttle are not "just fine". We replace critical hardware all the time that was never meant to be replaced. The problems are the result of the length of time the fleet has been in use. New inspection criteria is added all the time to check for unforseen problems that were never anticipated. The shuttles were originally designed to last 100 missions each or 10 years. While no shuttle has even close to that many missions, 10 years has long since passed.

      Look at it this way, we have already lost 40% of the fleet. Do we need to make it 50%?

      December 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • fuzzynormal

      "these problems that they're having are related to the primary fuel tank...The shuttle itself is doing just fine, they could fly them forever."

      I'd like to know how the shuttle could obtain orbit and "fly" without riding piggy back on that massive candle. The whole system is flawed and you can't separate the rockets from the shuttle when considering the whole vehicle. What, did you forget about Columbia and Challenger?

      Maybe you're referring to the practice of the shuttle riding atop a jet then dropping back down to a landing strip? In which case, that's not flying but just controlled descending.

      It's a waste of time to defend this thing. The design IS junk and it was obsolete pretty much from jump.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      NASA and the Obama administration have treated the space program appallingly. Obama officially killed the Shuttle with no real replacement and NASA seems more interested in saving jobs by pursuing the Global Warming Golden Goose than by exploring space. Meanwhile, they've spent at least $150 BILLION on a white elephant know as the ISS (a creation of the U.S. designed to give out of work ex-Soviet nuclear scientists jobs so they wouldn't build nukes for Arabs) and that gutted the productive space program completely.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jbird

      Nice try. But it was a far cry better than the true piece of junk, Buran! I suppose you think you could design a better manned system?!

      December 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • fuzzynormal

      Hey jbird, if you're talking about manned space flight, then anything the doesn't worry about massive cargo is an instant improvement. The shuttle is an inglorious and fat space bus that never got much use as designed. That's just the reality. It doesn't mean it didn't do good stuff, just that it was an extremely lousy program for manned space exploration.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      Richard, the Shuttle program was killed by Bush. The timeframe in which it was to happen occured under Obama. As a point of fact, Obama has lengthened the program.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • richphitzwell

      The shuttle program was canceled by W not Obama, but either way the shuttle program is not worth saving. Beautiful birds and all, but they never made economic sense and never made it past experimental stage. Yup, they are still considered experimental. If we were to continue the program every shuttle are due for a for the lack of better term C check and thats why they will not fly more flights.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Any loss of human space exploration

      Even though you may think the space shuttle is a piece of junk. It has done a lot of things that no other vehicle has done. Human exploration has never been free of death. It is part of the process of learning in dangerous environments such as space. Human exploration even on earth has been dangerous. When we have gone into unexplored territory.

      Any loss of human space exploration whether it is close to the planet or in the next star system (and yes I know we had not made it to the next star system) is a loss for humanity. And what we really need is a propulsion center that is not a chemically fueled rocket. I see where at the University of Florida. They overcame gravity with a strong magnetic field. They were floating flowers and frogs in the field.

      All of you that want to save the planet; well your best bet is getting humanity in space and off the planet.

      As for there being nothing left to explore close by as somebody commented. I still do not see Helium 3 being transported here from the Moon; a plentiful energy source that could easily supply us for the next two centuries; and no; oil would not become obsolete.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim W.

      The Shuttle is not junk ! The problem is with the brand new tank...NOT the shuttle ! Some of you people need to learn to read !!!!!!

      December 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stevelb1

      Unfortunately we are still like 3-5 years away from the Shuttle replacement. This thing has been a boondoggle of magnificent proportions ever since Nixon signed on to it 40 years ago. Its been way too expensive and extremely dangerous. Without a replacement, we are at the mercy of the Russians to get to the International Space Station, which is an embarrassment.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yakobi.

      The shuttle is just fine...if this was 1977. Personally, I like the new unmanned shuttle they're testing.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    I kind find it sad that they're retiring the Space Shuttle fleet, oh well I guess everything has come to an end. I just hope the United States doesn't give up on man space flight and it's my opinion President Obama doesn't have any vision on human space flight.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. The company I work for is developing and producing prototypes as we speak for future human space flight vehicles.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bird

      ....or anything else

      December 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Actually there is a lot of effort for human space flight such as the Ansari X Prize which gave us SpaceShipOne. The effort isn't to built old clunkers like the Discovery, but for more efficient, safer, space travel. In 20 years when we all drive space cars to our Lunar homes, do you think the Space Shuttle is the form we use? I don't think so.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      No vision? President Obama was correct in the fact that the private sector will take over low orbit human flight. Boeing, KLM and Virgin are all building spacships at the moment...

      December 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • hi

      President Bush doesn't have any vision for space flight because he was the one who started the cancellation.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    Great. Let's send Obama and GW Bush.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stevelb1

      Can we get all of Congress in there too?

      December 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Timmo

    Second. Is better than....

    December 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ian D. Samson

    Scrap the launch altogether. Better safe than another Challenger/Columbia disaster.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      That's something the astronauts and safety committees should decide. In the end, only the men and women riding the rockets into the sky can ultimately decide if the risk is worth it.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • sskrill

      I disagree Terry – remember when Columbia disintegrated and the wreckage spread all over Texas? What if it had been a bit south? Say Houston during regluar business hours? That would have been a catastrophe and many people who had no relation to the program would have been killed.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ditka

    I have no problem with them waiting to keep it safe. I just hope that they keep the space program rolling. It's just too important.
    God Speed!

    Cap'n, nice work. hahahaha

    December 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anon

    The space program is just a way to sell military investment to the public. It is a scama and it should be removed from the Federal budget.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      If you had ANY idea what the space program has brought to your every day life, you'd be singing a different tune. People don't realize the science aspect of NASA, all they see is rocket launches. The space program is vital.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ Jerry

      Velcro hasn't made my life any better, Jerry. It's a complete waste of dollars we could be using to give to those less fortunate than ourselves; thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abel

      Velcro? Haha, look up a series called NASA Spinoff. It's an annual publication showing the numerous technologies NASA has taken part in developing that have been "spinned-off" for use in everyday life.

      While you're at it, you should look up what percentage of the federal budget is actually given to NASA (something like less than one-half of a percent).

      December 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      Something given has no value.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ Abel

      Like anyone here can be bothered to read. Please. Regardless, one half of one percent is too much to give in the name of science and human advancement. We could be helping people at home. I can't live in space; that technology has no value to me. We are all resigned to living on Earth. Let's invest in our habitat.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • drano

      @Anon – I guess you are living proof that ignorance is bliss. Now I admit it is entirely possible that you are living in a cave somewhere in a temperate climate where your needs are minimal, but the rest of us in the civilized world have benefited from the technology spawned from the space programs. As a matter of fact, the computer you used to type your message was in part propagated by the space program.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ drano

      How is looking longingly at the stars supposed to help me at home?

      Answer: it isn't. We need to invest that money at home, on infrastructure and the poor.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abel

      @Anon – your reply is confusing, to say the least. Are you being sarcastic? Either way, you admit you are not willing to read anything that does not support your simplified perception of a topic. So no use in taking you seriously I guess.

      @Lee – thank you for pointing that out. It would be more accurate for me to say "what percentage is ALLOTTED to NASA", for which they return innovations of value to many industries.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Do you watch/read/listen to weather forecasts based on weather satellite photos? Do you have cable/satellite TV? Do you have a GPS unit in your car or for outdoor guidance?

      December 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brolan

      Lee, like your comments?

      December 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truman

      To tell you the truth, I'm kind of encouraged. This guy Chick here was an Air Force commando for six years.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. StormChaser

    I think they should just cancel the final flight all together. We really don't want another shuttle exploding for any reason, and with this many problems, it would be inevitable.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Space travel comes with risk. Sadly in this world of butterflies and rainbows we live in today we've forgotten that to do great things you need to put it all on the line. The astronauts and everyone involved know what they're getting into. Challenger/Columbia were terrible accidents that are truly unfortunate, but don't think that any one of those astronauts did not know it was a possibility that something could go wrong. Now we have science to do, launch this bad boy in February and lets get Robonaut assembled.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      They can't cancel it. There are people on the station.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dedufus

      @Shawn – this mission isnt even going to the ISS, and i'm not sure ANY future missions are, either. The shuttle isnt the only way to get to the ISS (or back again, for that matter).

      December 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saabman

      "we should just cancel the program"?! Okay, just stick your head a little deeper in the sand buddy. I suppose you're okay with our American astronauts flying up to the space station on Russian rockets. Hey, why don't we just stop producing Military Jets and just by them from the Russians while we're at it.
      Folks, the problem with our space program is that we should have started to develop a replacement for the shuttle fleet back in the 80's after the Challenger exploded. We learned back then how fragile these things were and we already knew they were a maint. nightmare. As much as I hate Obama, you can't blame him for a decision that should have been made during the Clinton or the 1st Bush administration.
      We need to make a few more flights with the shuttles to the space station because they are the only heavy lift vehicle we have in our fleet. Let's hope and pray that the last few flights are successful. Then, unfortunately we'll have several years without a manned space program. It's better to wait for a new disposable system to be developed then to put these orbiters back into space at great risk. Just think about it, would you take a cross country trip in a 1984 Ford Escort..I doubt it. I'd wait until I had a new car to make that trip!

      December 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Dedufus, all remaining missions are going to the ISS. This one is dropping off various supplies and experimental equipment including Robonaut. You're right though that the astronauts onboard can leave by other means. The Soyuz escape capsule is always there ready to go (as a last minute emergency lifeboat) and the Russians are not retiring their Soyuz missions yet.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      dedufus: the last Columbia flight was supposed to be one of the last non space station flights. I don't even believe that Columbia had more than a couple of flights scheduled as it was the only shuttle that was not modified to connect to the space station. This was because Columbia was heavier than all the other shuttles with all of its test equipment that was never removed as well as the left over ejection seats (the ejection mechanisms were removed, but it left extra mass behind).

      December 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. anderson

    Its obvious these things need to be retired. They cant even get this one off the ground!

    December 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chief ElectraGlide

    How about we just turn off the space program untill America is back on it's feet good and solid.
    Then, when we are back on track we can play with our rockets again, when we can afford to.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      That will never happen. The US will always have problems. It's hard to appreciate something like the space program when you don't know what you get from it.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      'Playing with rockets' is such a small part of what NASA does. You need to wake up and read up on all the technological advancements in every field of study that NASA has brought to humankind.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      It doesn't work that way. You can't close down NASA for a few years and then start it up again. All the brilliant engineers and scientists will have found new jobs, retired, or gone overseas. It would take decades to rebuild the program, all to save at most a few billion dollars from a trillion dollar deficit.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ Ted

      Who cares? In 20 years those scientists and engineers are going to be in China or India if they want work. We might as well accelerate the process of the technological decline of America in the interest of supporting the Baby Boomers.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boater

      Yet another person who doesn't understand how much the Space Program does for jobs in this country. No space program = millions (literally) of lost jobs. For instance, during the Apollo program, EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF MY FAMILY was in some way employed by the program. My father tested the antennas used to track the rockets. My mother processed the astronauts payroll. One grandmother soldered circuit boards used on the rockets. My other grandmother worked for a company that produced the medical supplies used in the capsules. My uncle worked for IBM in the area of the Apollo Guidance Computer development. And the list goes on..... Absolutely NONE of them worked for NASA, but if it wasn't for NASA, they would not have had the jobs that they did. I bet if you looked good and hard, just about everyone could find someone they know that would be negatively-effected by ending the space program. (well, maybe not some of you with your back-woods ideas, but most of us from the CIVILIZED world).

      December 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ Boater

      How about your family does something else rather than live on the government teat?

      December 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richp, Easton, Pa

      If we just basically shut nasa down for say 10 years it would take 20-40 to get the talent back. The main impediment to a moon mission is the old apollo people are gone, retired, dead, moved on to other jobs. It would literally involve relearning and reinventing the wheel. As for the shuttles, don't know why they just don't leave them up there, they may make a decent tractor trailer to carry supplies to other missions.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DinaK

    Oh well, I guess NASA's new mission of Muslim outreach and man-made global climate disruption studies is being put on hold. How terrible.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muhammad ibn al-Khwarizmi Al-jabru

      Too bad your outreach at education failed.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. My Take

    lets drag the launch out until 2014. They drag it out on purpose so they wont lose their jobs when the shuttle program is kaput. If I were President I would scrub the whole NASA program...such a waste of money, jeez.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • My Take

      we don't even have the technology to fix a broken oil well 5 miles under water and we are wasting our time in space??? priorities people priorities!

      December 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      I'm guessing you have the same impression as most Americans - that NASA is a huge amount of the federal budgets. In fact, it's just $17 billion a year from a $3 trillion budget. Of course there's waste, but they do some pretty awesome work for so little money compared to the rest of the junk we spend money on.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • nk

      Do you have any idea what NASA has done for us technologically?
      Apparently you dont.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinCincy

      The stupidity on here is amazing... NASA is less than one half of one percent of the federal budget. For the uneducated, that's less than one half of a penny of each tax dollar. Do you like your cell phones? How about advanced imaging in the medical field that has saved countless lives? I could go on and on... Educate yourselves before you embarass yourself with shear stupidity...

      December 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      @ JeffinCincy

      Cellular telephones are based on technology from the Army, not NASA. Maybe you should try some of that education you so eloquently pontificate.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      also @Jeff – sorry, its "sheer" not "shear". Shear is something that happens when one object comes apart and becomes two.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • AE

      These are just a few of the ways people's lives are improved by investing in space. Google is your friend.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Veritas

    Hope they cancel it so no more die.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Nobody is forcing anyone to be an astronaut...

      I mean, why don't we take away everyone's car and save tens of thousands of lives a year?

      December 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jason Atchley

    I have always been fascinated with the Shuttle program. I remember writing to NASA in 5th grade with suggestions on how to improve the shuttle including adding a laser to the front! They were kind and replied with a packet full of pictures and information. I still have it to this day and gave it to my kids to read through. I will miss the Shuttles but look forward to the next space vehicle program.

    Jason Atchley

    December 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
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