Columbia Cleared to Begin Mission for Military Aug. 8
NASA pronounced space shuttle Columbia ready to fly Wednesday and set Aug. 8 as the date for launching it with five astronauts and a secret military satellite.
Bill Lenoir, the space agency’s associate administrator for space flight, made the announcement at the conclusion of a two-day flight review that assessed the readiness of the orbiter, payload, global tracking network and other mission elements.
A statement, conforming to Pentagon national security policy, said only that the launch would occur between 4:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Aug. 8. The countdown will be made public nine minutes before the planned liftoff and a news blackout will be in effect until about an hour before landing.
When shuttle managers began the review meeting Tuesday, there was a potential problem with a fuel valve, but the problem turned out to be a false sensor reading, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Wednesday qualified the valve for flight.
The flight originally had been scheduled for July 31.