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The Nation : Pump Repairs May Delay Shuttle’s Launch by 10 Days

The shuttle Discovery’s planned Feb. 23 launch could be delayed until March because at least two of three liquid oxygen pumps on the craft’s main engines will probably be replaced, NASA reported. Sources reported that replacing two pumps could mean a delay of 10 or more days. A decision will be made before Discovery is rolled out to the launch pad, a move scheduled for Thursday, National Aeronautics and Space Administration spokeswoman Lisa Malone said. The problem stems from the December flight of the shuttle Atlantis. Post-flight inspection of Atlantis’ engines disclosed two tiny cracks in a bearing assembly in one of the turbopumps. Because two of Discovery’s pumps may have been processed in the same manner as the faulty Atlantis unit, NASA is leaning toward replacing them with new, carefully inspected pumps. The third pump may also be replaced as a precaution, Malone said. Discovery is to carry a crew of five who are to deploy a communications satellite and conduct scientific and medical experiments.


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