Shuttle Discovery might take its last flight over Christmas

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | 1:40 p.m. CST

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is looking at another launch delay for space shuttle Discovery that could push the mission into Christmas.

Mission managers were meeting Wednesday to review repairs made to Discovery since a Nov. 5 launch attempt. Hydrogen gas leaks halted the countdown. Unrelated cracks later were found on the fuel tank.

NASA wants to understand the cracking before launching Discovery to the International Space Station one last time. The space agency had been working toward a Dec. 3 liftoff for the 11-day mission. But that's no longer feasible.

Discovery's next launch window opens Dec. 17, after a new station crew lifts off from Kazakhstan. If the shuttle isn't flying by year's end, it will remain grounded until February.


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