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Originally scheduled for launch on March 17, NASA’s Atlas 5 rocket recently underwent repairs to replace a leaky liquid oxygen valve and is now scheduled to launch Friday evening. Engineers do not believe the leak would have caused the launch to fail.
NASA LOX Valve Replaced- 4/1/2009
The source of the leak was found to be the oxidizer inlet valve on the Centaur upper stage's RL10 engine. Earlier countdown simulations involving loading cryogenics onto the craft also saw the inlet valve leaking slightly, but not nearly as seriously as the leak on March 17. The cause of the leak remains unknown, but a new valve was installed last week. It performed well in all types of testing, showing no signs of leakage.
"We feel very fortunate to find this on the ground,” says Mark Wilkins, United Launch Alliance's vice president of the Atlas product line. “However, we believe it's very unlikely that the leakage that we saw would have had any effect on this mission. But what this really allows us to do is have the hardware in hand that's displayed this discrepant condition, and we can get it back on the bench and determine what caused it and do a very a thorough investigation, which would not be afforded to us if we would have saw this type of leakage as a flight observation."
Read the full story on Spaceflight Now.