Thursday, September 07, 2006

---Atlantis [Updated], Titan Flyby 

Atlantis still waiting
Spaceflight Now | STS-115 Shuttle Report | Atlantis launch slips to Friday at the earliest
Struck by lightning, threatened by a tropical storm and returned halfway to its hangar, now suffering a troublesome but not quite rules-invoking dysfunction of one of its three critical fuel cells. Under immense pressure to launch Atlantis on its ISS assembly mission, managers are again talking about waiving this or that requirement to get off the pad. Should they fly with a fuel cell that is “acting funny”? If they have to replace it, which would cause them to miss the window imposed by the Russian Soyuz launch, should they waive daylight launch rules and hope nothing falls off when they can’t see it? After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
The Flame Trench space blog by Florida Today
FL Today’s space weblog has additional details. Workers at KSC have evidently started referring to Altantis as “The Penguin”---->“black and white and never flies”.

[Spaceflight Now | STS-115 Shuttle Report | Atlantis' fuel cell cleared for Friday launch try
NASA has now decided to attempt to launch Atlantis tomorrow, despite the "funny" fuel cell. The fuel cell will fly with the defective phase of its coolant pump's wiring disconnected to prevent further "funny" activity. Dissent to the launch attempt as-is included the manufacturer of the fuel cell's suspect pump. Oddly enough, the pump also flew on STS-93, where it sufferred a short in its wiring. Hale described the launch decision as "almost unanimous", and applauded the "new NASA", in which none of the dissenting engineers has apparently been fired or moved to broom closets.]

Cassini-Huygens: News-Features-Titan Flyby
On a somewhat happier note, the Cassini orbiter at Saturn will make yet another close flyby of the moon Titan today. Titan is proving to be much wierder and infinitely more interesting than any Dairy Queen™ parking lot, in West Texas or anywhere else.

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