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. AeroEngineer

    I too worked for a "prime contractor" on the Shuttle, and aeromechanic is a pinhead. The shuttle is a fantastic design that, with the proper support of NASA and contractors (i.e. upgrades and replacement components) could continue to fly safely for years to come. Too many corners were cut to save costs on the government and contractor side and the result is Challenger and Columbia. I am helping to design one of the next generation manned space vehicles, but I still have nothing but respect for the designers whose shoulders I can stand on! Go Discovery!

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

      If you say so. Damn how I wish I could actually disclose more about what goes on here. the dice get rolled so often, it's a miracle that the damn thing has ever worked.

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

      AeroEngineer, Thank-You for one of the few intelligent replies here... I too am an engineer working on many space related projects at a sub-contractor/component level, both for manned and unmanned missions... While all space flight is inherently high risk, that's the price we must pay for human advancement... As a species, if we stop exploring and pushing our boundaries we are surely done... We must continue to move forward... I was at Kennedy Space Center last week and saw Discovery on the launch pad... Even after all these years of service it's still an awesome sight!!

      December 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      No Gemstone, it was not an intelligent post. He immediately resorted to insults. He was free to disagree with me, but when you resort to insults it means you are at the end of the rope as far as truths.

      You guys can continue your high-fiving and butt slapping all you want. The fact remains that the shuttles should have been taken out of service long ago. Shame on Bill Clinton and George Bush for not having realistic plans in place for a shuttle replacement.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Susan Lewis

    Here is something that we waste billions of dollars on. It should stop, right now!

    December 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Virtual Tech

    What I don't understand is why don't they just develop a new model of Shuttle? Replace/revamp the stuff that doesn't work, or is due for replacement for new tech, and leave the old reliable stuff(hopefully there area few things left that work well on it).
    Just like cars. Create a 2011+ model that fixes the issues. Car companies don't reinvent the wheel each year. They replace the portions that need it or would give an enhancment.
    NASA should have been retiring and bringing new models online during the whole program run.
    We should really only have shuttles that are a few years old.
    That being said, hindsight is 20-20. Forsight... not so much.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Car companies don't take back old cars and replace them with shiny new parts and re-sell them. That's the flaw in your argument. I agree with you in principle... they should be progressively upgrading the existing "fleet". They are, in fact doing so. The industry I'm in is directly related to the space program. I can tell you with confidence, they aren't just throwing a coat of paint on things and sending it back up.

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

      They have been progressively upgraded over the course of their lives. They're called 'mods' here at KSC. Problem is, man-rating a space system is an incredibly expensive and time-consuming process because it has to be more reliable than is sane to expect. Apart from the extreme deep sea, space is the single most hostile environment humanity has yet encountered.

      Also, if something works consistently and accomplishes its mission, why change it? Case in point, the vehicle's control system is the same one it's used since the 70's. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    Is anyone following SpaceX? ( They had a successful test fire of their Falcon 9 rocket which is supposed to carry manned missions to the space station and cargo–I thought they were the replacement for the shuttle. They're supposed to launch for the second time this year on Tuesday 12/7.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      I, for one, welcome our new coporate space overlords.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |


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

      I am sure the Russian's are reliable enough to get people back from the ISS in the event of a claimity. Didn't you read the recent cables?

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

      If people are worried about the cost of the space program (or what is left of it) then why would we want our tax dollars going to the crazy expensive boeing?

      December 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NeTxJoe

    I personally think they should just scrap the space missions for now. We need long range exploration capability, and that is just not in our scope of technology. What are we going to find on Mars? A bare planet with no life that we know right now, and if there are any forms of life, it would have to subteranian. There is not alot to be gained from how we explore space at the moment. Even if we did find something usable on another planet, our vessels are way to small to transport any significant amount back to earth. If we are ever to learn anything from space travel, we either need a faster propulsion system, or generation ships. Just my thoughts though.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Any loss of human space exploration

      As for there being nothing left to explore close by . 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 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. solowsporty

    If any of you had any idea how much the space program has helped, you wouldn't be objecting to it.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Blow

    Obama's fault

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

      Bush actually cancelled it.

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

      I hope your comment is sarcasm because is was GW Bush's 8 years of mis-management and lack of vision that put NASA in the position it is today...

      December 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MPisani

    Not sure how the shuttle's are obsolete. They are the most complicated vehicles ever built. No other country has ever had 1 operating shuttle (the USSR built a couple but never flew them). They may be 30years old but they are still the most technologically advanced vehicles on the planet. As for no shuttle should be more than a few years old, how long do you think it takes to build one shuttle? They were designed to be reusable and have proven to be reliable. 2 accidents in over 30 years of service is a pretty darn good record. This isn't like driving to the corner store to get milk, this is space travel. How many people do you think died trying to get from Europe to the US by boat in the 1700's? I'm sure if anyone could come up with a better platform, NASA would love to hear from you.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JV

    Here's what I think. They should just retire Discovery since it is the oldest of the remaining shuttles instead of fixing the issues it has. And use the other birds to do the last couple missions, since they are newer and most probably (speculating) has less mileage on them anyway.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan


      The problem however isn't the shuttle itself. The issue is with the tank (from what I have read, it is the structural parts between the two tanks (the oxygen tank is on top, the hydrogen tank is on the bottom) that hold everything together. This tank is brand new.

      So even though it is a launch of discovery, just replacing the discovery with say Atlantis or Endeavour won't fix anything, the launch would still be a no go until the tank issue is resolved.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AZLib

    Lets stop all this extreamly expensive maned space flights. What beneift are we receiving at this point... 10% unemployment $13T debt.... this is one big expensive program that can be sidelined for happier days. I don't mind the unmanned flights if we keep anything, but manned missions are a BIG expense. The American tax payer can no longer afford such .... expecially in today's economy. I say NO to building a new more advanced shuttle and further I say cancel all of the rest of the scheduled flights. Sorry not that I am against new science, but we just can't afford this program.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • AE

      NASA's budget is less than one half of one percent ( < 0.5 %) of total GDP. You'd be saving $17 billion out of a $13 trillion debt or about 0.0013 of the total. While irreparably shattering our spaceflight capability and literally handing over leadership in space to Russia and soon China.

      Compared to all the other crap we waste money on as a country, I think it's undeniable that space is worth that half penny on your tax dollar.

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

      @ AE

      We are 20 years from being subserviant to Russia and China anyway. We might as well at least control our decline. Maybe there is an opportunity to trade techology for debt reduction?

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

      Thank God NASA engineers don't think like you do. We don't want to control our decline we want to reverse it. However, Congress gives the orders, not us. If they don't have their act together then our options are limited. Trading tech for debt reduction will give them a lot of tech and a whole lot of nothing for us.

      Also, 2 things: 1, when dealing with space, 20 years actually isn't all that long.

      2, China's tech development programs operate much faster than ours because they partner heavily with their military, they have a technological axe to grind with us and they work their engineers beyond all belief. Look up Hyundai's engineer's work hours and tell me China's government engineers will get a better deal.

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

      @ AE

      One of us has a realistic expectation. We need to figure out which train it is (China, India, or Russia) and hop on it lest we get devoured in the power vacuum. NASA isn't going to help us in any regard.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeverett

    I think the shuttle is just getting old. How many here drive 30 year old cars to work every day?
    My brother used to work on B52s(talk about old!) for the Air Force. These have been upgraded heavily. However, they are getting to the point that the structure of the plane itself is failing and good structural parts are no longer available(even in the Ariz. boneyard). It is either make brand new structural parts or retire the plane.
    I think the shuttle is not far from that point.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Pres. Bush cancelled the shuttle program. Does your blind hatred of Pres. Obama require you to blame Pres. Obama for everything?

    December 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Any loss of human space exploration

      And Obama cance manned spaceflight

      December 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pat

    Can't they just get used parts from ebay and keep the shuttles flying another 10 years? I see vaccuum tubes on ebay every day.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. redisgreat

    Time to scrap NASA. This is definitely one government money pit that can be turned over to the private sector.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boater

      Time to scrap all of the useless no-win wars.... What GOOD has come out of that money? And, do you have any idea how much money was spent in the Gulf vs. NASA? The numbers would be "enlightening"

      December 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
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