Jun 18, 2009

LRO & LCROSS: Ready to Roll to Pad 41

by Ken Kremer

The million pound thrust Atlas V rocket which will blast NASA's piggybacked Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) to the Moon is set to be rolled out from the Vertical Integration Facility to the pad at Space Launch Complex 41 today at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. LRO launch had been postponed 1 day to allow one last flight opportunity for Shuttle Endeavour in June.

Today's planned launch of Endeavour from Pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station was scrubbed at 1:55 AM this morning. Intermittent leaks were again detected with the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the shuttle's external fuel tank similar to the one which stopped Endeavour's launch on Jun 13. The fueling itself had been delayed several hours due to the nearby threat of thunderstorms. Venting of excess hydrogen is required to prevent accumulation of dangerous vapors.

The Endeavour countdown had successfully resumed as planned on Tuesday Jun 16 at the T-minus 11 hour mark and was proceeding normally until hydrogen leaks of up to 40,000 to 60,000 ppm were detected. NASA plans a full investigation to ascertain the

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