CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –A successful valve replacement aboard NASA's shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy SpaceCenter (KSC) has cleared the spacecraft of any air leaks, space agencyofficials said Friday.
"Thetest went great," said GeorgeDiller, a NASAspokesperson here at KSC. "Endeavour's cabin is now leak-free."
Withthe fix in place, engineers are continuing to prepare Endeavour for a planned Aug.7 launch to carry on construction of the International Space Station (ISS). Theshuttle and its seven-astronaut STS-118 crew are slated to lift off at about7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT) Tuesday and rendezvous with the ISS two days later.
Endeavour'sfaulty valve was one of two in the orbiter's crew cabin, and is designed torelieve excess air to prevent over-pressurization of the shuttle.
Thesuccessful check came after a faulty positive pressure release valve wasdiscovered during anearlier inspection, and was replaced yesterday with one of shuttleAtlantis' working valves. Diller explained that engineers made the switchbecause getting a brand new valve would have taken too much time and pushedback the launch date.
Dillernoted that the leak "was considerably greater" than NASA allows.
"Overtime, the kind of leak we found would not have been a safe situation," hesaid. Diller added that the length of the current mission made fixing the leaka top priority, as reserves of air could have run dangerously low.
Withthe repair a success, Endeavour's STS-118crew is expected to arrive today at KSC in preparation for next week'slaunch.
Commandedby veteran astronaut Scott Kelly, Endeavour's crew will deliver a fresh load ofcargo, spare parts and a new starboard-side piece of the ISS during an11-to-14-day mission. The flight also marks the first launch for teacher-turned-astronautBarbara Morgan, who firstjoined NASA's ranks in 1985 as the backup for Teacher in Space ChristaMcAuliffe. McAuliffe and six NASA astronauts died in January 1986 when theirspace shuttle Challenger broke apart just after launch.
Morganand her STS-118 crewmates are due to arrive at KSC in T-38 supersonic jettrainers at about 5:00 p.m. ET (2100 GMT).
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