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NASA continues search for glitch

Michael Cabbage Orlando Sentinel

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Discovery could launch as early as next Tuesday despite a fuel-sensor problem that continues to perplex NASA engineers.

Technicians have replaced wiring, checked systems and swapped out hardware in an effort to pinpoint the glitch that last Wednesday scrubbed the first shuttle launch attempt since 2003. So far, they haven’t found or re-created the failure.

“It’s difficult to find a glitch that won’t stay glitched,” said Bill Parsons, NASA’s shuttle program manager. “We’re still looking for the problem.”

If two more days of troubleshooting aren’t successful, mission managers are considering a July 26 test that would fill the shuttle’s external fuel tank with its super-cold propellants. That test could be part of a countdown for launch if engineers make progress this week.

Another scenario is a launch attempt the following day if the tanking test goes well and the failure doesn’t reappear. NASA managers are trying to keep all of their options open and get Discovery off the ground before the current launch window ends July 31.

“Hopefully, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we will find the glitch that has us all confused or frustrated or pick your adjective,” said Wayne Hale, NASA’s shuttle program deputy manager.

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