NASA works to fix small fuel leak on shuttle Discovery


Washington: NASA engineers are working to fix a small fuel leak on the shuttle Discovery before its scheduled launch next month, the US space agency said Thursday.

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Space shuttle programme manager John Shannon said NASA was still working to learn about the leak, which was discovered earlier this week but appeared to have been stopped.

“We fly with accepted risk, we don’t fly with unknown risk,” he said, stressing the importance of determining the source of the leak and fixing it.

In order to be sure the leak would not persist, a fuel line was being drained so that workers can replace two seals.

The work should be done by the weekend, leaving the shuttle ready to fly for its scheduled launch November 1, Shannon said.

Discovery will be making its last flight as NASA winds down the space shuttle programme with one, or possibly two more flights, next year before the retirement of the ageing spacecraft fleet.

Discovery is bringing the last US module to the International Space Station that will provide additional storage and laboratory space on the orbiting station. Discovery will also bring spare cargo and a new, different kind of resident – the first human-like robot in space called Robonaut 2 (R2).

“We are making good on our promise that we would get the space station in the absolute best configuration before we retired the shuttle,” Shannon said.

The launch window for Discovery is Nov 1-7. If it does not fly during that time, the flight would be rescheduled for December.