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Tanking, Rollback, Eclipse and Measuring - SpacePod 2010.12.20

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Tanking, rolling, eclipsing, and scanning... I am Benjamin Higginbotham and this is your SpaceVidcast SpacePod for December 20, 2010. On November 5th, 2010 NASA scrubbed the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery due to a Hydrogen leak. At first it looked like this was another GUCP issue which vents the Hydrogen boiloff away from the vehicle. However as engineers inspected the tank a bit further, large cracks in the insulation foam were detected which later led to the finding of cracks in metal stringers. As more cracks were found, NASA decided to delay the launch until 2011 to allow additional time for testing. Now, at noon UTC this last Friday NASA began testing with a full fueling of the Space Shuttle Discovery's orange external tank. Half a million pounds of super cooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen were loaded into the tank while engineers collected data from sensors. At 19:25 UTC the tanking test completed after NASA had fully pressurized and simulated pre-launch conditions. Allard Beutel: We've been hearing about it this morning now Mike, but so far so good on the test results so far. Mike Moses: Yeah, no doubt, the GUCP didn't leak, which was a good milestone. The team is recording the data. The temperature data looks like what they were expecting it to look like. They're ... they couldn't even wait for the computers to do the processing they're typing by hand into Excel spreadsheets to try to look at temperature data and strain data and that's all looking "in family" too. So they're pretty excited with all that. So it looks like we're getting good data. Like anything with a hazardous operation, it's nice and boring today, which is a good thing. So everything's looking just the way it's supposed to. Benjamin: NASA needs some time to evaluate the data further, but thus far it's looking good for an early February launch. Now, while the tanking tests are completed, NASA is not done analyzing the vehicle yet. After filling the external tank with all that fuel they then emptied in in preparations to roll the entire shuttle stack back to the vehicle assembly building this Tuesday. Once there, engineers will take X-Rays of the external tank to ensure there are no additional surprises in store, that have yet to be detected. If all goes well we'll be looking at a new launch target date of no earlier than February 3rd, 2010. Tonight through tomorrow morning will be quite a rare event. For those of you in North America you'll have a great opportunity to see a lunar eclipse on the same day as Winter solstice! Because in the last 2000 years a lunar eclipse has only happened on winter solstice once! A lunar eclipse happens when the earth passes between the sun and the moon, causing our planet to cast a shadow over the moon and blocking out its light. The best viewing area will be in North America and will start tonight with the best viewing times for most areas happening before dawn on the 21st of December. Also happening tonight, the Cassini spacecraft will make a 48 kilometer pass over the north pole of everyone's favorite [Saturn] Moon: Enceledus. The Fields and Particles instrument will try and sniff out anything coming from the moon. That's a whole lot going on during what is essentially the shortest day of the year! As we get closer and closer to the holidays, we're feeling more and more giving here at Spacevidcast. Over the past few weeks we have already given out 3 Roku HD players and we've got another one to give away on December 24th at 0200 UTC during our live show. Now, since it is Christmas eve and all, we sure think it would be cool if we could give out other great prizes as well maybe Mission Clock and some Spacevidcast warez. The only way to win is to watch live. For those of you in the US that show will be this Thursday at 6:00pm PST or 9:00pm EST. We'll see you there!

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 38 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 58
Posted by: spacevidcast on Dec 20, 2010

On November 5th, 2010 NASA scrubbed the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery due to a Hydrogen leak. At first it looked like this was just another GUCP issue which vents the Hydrogen boiloff away from the vehicle. However as engineers inspected the tank a bit further large cracks in the insulation foam were detected which later led to the finding of cracks in metal stringers. As more cracks were found, NASA decided to delay the launch until 2011 to allow additional time for testing.
At noon UTC this last Friday NASA began that testing with a full on fueling of Space Shuttle Discovery's orange external tank. Half a million pounds of super cooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen were loaded in to the tank while engineers collected data from sensors. At 19:25 UTC the tanking test completed after NASA had fully pressurized and simulated pre-launch conditions. The initial verdict is that no issues were found. The GUCP was not leaking and from what they could tell no additional stress on the external tank was exhibited. NASA needs some time to evaluate the data further, but thus far it is looking good for an early February launch.
While the tanking tests are completed, NASA is not done analyzing the vehicle yet. After filling the external tank with all that fuel they then emptied in in preparations to roll the entire shuttle stack back to the vehicle assembly building this Tuesday. Once there engineers will take X-Rays of the external tank to ensure there are no additional surprises in store, that have yet to be detected. If all goes well we will be looking at a new launch target date of No Earlier Than February 3rd, 2010.
Tonight through tomorrow morning will be quite a rare event. For those of you in North America you'll have a great opportunity to see a lunar eclipse on the same day as Winter solstice! In the last 2000 years a lunar eclipse has only happened once on winter solstice! A lunar eclipse happens when the earth passes between the sun and the moon, causing our planet to cast a shadow over the moon and blocking out its light. The best viewing area will be in North America and will start tonight with the best viewing times for most areas happening before dawn on the 21st of December.
Also happening tonight, Cassini will make a 48 kilometer pass over the north pole of everyone's favorite Saturn Moon: Enceledus. The Fields and Particles instrument will try and sniff out anything coming from the moon. That's a whole lot going on during the shortest day of the year!
As we get closer and closer to the holidays, we're feeling more and more giving here at Spacevidcast. Over the past few weeks we have already given out 3 Roku HD players and we have another one to give away on December 24th at 0200 UTC during our live show. Since it is Christmas eve it sure would be cool if we gave out other great prizes as well such as Mission Clock and Spacevidcast warez. The only way to win is to watch live. For those of you in the US that show will be this Thursday at 6:00pm PST or 9:00pm EST. We'll see you there!

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