Technicians will retrieve the ground umbilical carrier plate at Launch Pad 39A and begin a close look at it over the weekend after a leak in the apparatus prompted a scrub of Friday's launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery. Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director, said the liftoff was postponed until no earlier than Nov. 30 so engineers could have time to consider the problem and inspect the GUCP more closely.
Mission managers also will look closely at a crack in the external tank foam that developed as supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen were being drained from the tank. The 15-story tall, orange external tank shrinks and expands as its temperature changes from the effects of the propellants. That change can cause the foam insulation on the outside of it to crack.
Mike Moses, chair of the Mission Management Team, said the crack did not develop until after the launch attempt was called off. However, he said the team will analyze the crack carefully.
Discovery's next possible launch opportunity comes Nov. 30 at 4:05 a.m. EST.