"CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA has postponed the next space-shuttle flight from May until July so engineers can change out suspect sensors in the ship's external fuel tank.
"The critical fuel sensors are designed to make sure the shuttle's three main engines shut down before the 15-story tank runs out of propellants during launch. An early cutoff could prevent the shuttle from reaching orbit. A late shutdown with a dry tank could seriously damage the spacecraft.(link)
"seriously damage?" More like "obliterate" or "kaboom."
The ECO sensors have been malfunctioning for a while. Well not all, just ECO-3 and ECO-4 sensors. Is it a coincidence that no matter how many times they switch tanks and mess around with the grounding they still have these problems?... My friggin' eye.
Engineers have bee ingnored by NASA management through this whole ordeal. They've made request after request for refueling tests that were ignored.
Instead, we were told that the sensors were fine once, they failed, said they fixed them, failed again, they said they fixed them again and now:
"That led to the discovery that some sensors have slightly loose wire attachments because of manufacturing problems and routine handling of the tank."
Ok. So now they've figured out the problem. The other bajillion times we weren't wrong... We were just not exactly wrong... but wrong. This time we got it though.
Two things go through my mind at this point. The first is if that's true Beavers don't stink. The second is, if this is the cause of ECO-3 and 4 sensors malfunctioning, then the last shuttle launch flew with this same manufacturing flaw. Meaning, the other sensors could have had a simmilar flaw. If so God was really looking after that last shuttle crew.
Though the thing that doesn't jive is why this manufacturing flaw only started showing up after the installation of the new heaters. Possibly some new assembly standards were created in the aftermath of the last shuttle disaster. This is one loose end you would think they would want to clear up before going ahead any further. Because until they do, the root cause is not definitely found.
"As a result, mission managers decided Tuesday to swap out all four liquid hydrogen sensors in Discovery's tank at Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building."
All I can say is that after they do this, I hope another fueling test is done. That's the only way to completely check to see if ECO-3 and ECO-4 sensors continue to fail. That's the ultimate test. However, previous re-fueling test requests have been rejected by NASA management... So I'm expecting more of the same.
As far as I'm concerned, this ECO sensor issue is still not resolved, and more delays could still yet come - or worse.
The Trouble With Sensors II
The Trouble With Sensors I