By Graham Ziervogel
After month-long delays, space shuttle, Discovery, was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Sunday, 15 March 2009. The 14 day mission will deliver urgently needed supplies to the International Space Centre and has repeatedly been delayed due to technical problems.
The most recent delay in the shuttle’s launch came as a result of a leaking hydrogen gas line. Officials discovered the problem on Wednesday, 11 March and the voyage was postponed until Sunday to allow technicians to make necessary repairs.
The launch had previously been delayed after space shuttle, Endeavour’s hydrogen flow-control valve system was damaged in a flight late last year. Engineers felt that it was necessary to conduct extensive tests on the valve system of Discovery to prevent a similar problem from occurring.
The shuttle will deliver two solar wing arrays to the International Space Centre. These arrays will provide additional electricity which is urgently needed to sustain newly developed sections of the centre.
Additional supplies will also be delivered as NASA prepares to double the size of the centre’s permanent crew members from three to six in May 2009.Early reports on the mission suggest that everything is going according to plan.