A small leak was discovered in a propellant line for space shuttle Discovery's orbital maneuvering system engines. The leak was found at a flange located at the interface where two propellant lines meet in the shuttle's aft compartment. The line carries a propellant called monomethyl hydrazine, one of two chemicals used to ignite the 6,000-pound thrust engines seen on either side of the shuttle's tail above the three main engines.
Engineers and technicians working on Discovery at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will tighten the six bolts around the suspect flange and re-evaluate for leaks. If that doesn't work, the propellants already inside the tanks will be pumped out and technicians will replace its primary and secondary seals.
The processing schedule could allow the two seals to be replaced without delaying Discovery's targeted launch on Nov. 1. Space Shuttle Program managers, however, are careful about making sure any potential fixes are indeed successful before pressing ahead with a countdown.