NASA has just called off the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour by at least three days due to a glitch in one of the thermostats onboard ths shuttle. The Kennedy Space Center has issued an explanation why the launch, STS-134, was postponed.
Thermostats are vital to keep the fuel from freezing in space. There are two thermostats on-board the Endeavour. Now, with one of them showing problems, NASA cannot go ahead with just one theï»¿rmostatï»¿, just in case that it too malfunctions. Engineers are not quite sure how this particular thermostat went bust.
The launch will be no earlier than Monday, 2:33 PM EST (local time for Kennedy Space Center). NASA has already put up a tentative explanation on youtube by Mike Leinbach, the Shuttle Launch Director. You can follow the launch in HD, as it is streamed directly by NASA here.
It is clear that after the disasters of Challenger and Columbia, and with sensitive instruments on-board, NASA would rather embarrass itself and take a step back than go ahead with a risky launch. As Richard Feynman, famous physicistï»¿ and a panelist on the Challenger investigation panel said about the Challenger disaster in 1986:
Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
Hopefully, this delay won’t go beyond Monday.