Managers for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have relinquished their June 17 launch date to the space shuttle program to give the shuttle Endeavour another chance to lift off to the International Space Station.
Chuck Duvall, NASA launch director for the Atlas V mission to sent LRO to the Moon, said this afternoon that the decision will give Endeavour another chance to embark on its leak-delayed ISS assembly mission, and still may give LRO a chance to launch only one day late.
Duvall said shuttle crews are on track to repair a hydrogen vent line leak that forced a scrub before the original June 13 launch date. The leak, very similar to one that forced a scrub on the STS-119 launch in March, came at the point where gaseous hydrogen is vented into the pad structure at Launch Complex 39A for burnoff.
If the work continues to go well, and the repair holds when Endeavour's external tank is filled with supercold liquid hydrogen, liftoff of Endeavour will come at 5:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday. That wil give LRO three chances to launch -- on June 18, 19 and 20 -- with the first chance coming at 5:12 p.m. EDT June 18.