Mark Hess Headquarters, Washington, D.C. (Phone: 202/453-4164) Ed Campion Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

(Phone: 202/453-8536) Lisa Malone Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Phone: 407/867-2468) RELEASE: 90-89

June 29, 1990 5:45 p.m. EDT

HYDROGEN LEAK DISCOVERED ON SHUTTLE ATLANTIS A propellant loading test of the STS-38 Space Shuttle vehicle, slated to conduct a dedicated Department of Defense mission in mid-July, revealed a hydrogen leak. Although similar to the leak that caused the postponement of the STS-35/Astro-1 mission, the leak appears to be smaller than the one detected during the tanking exercise on the STS-35 vehicle prior to its rollback to the VAB and demating. Engineers today loaded the Shuttle's external fuel tank to about the 5 percent level to check for leaks in the umbilical between the orbiter Atlantis and the fuel tank. Instrumentation located in the umbilical area detected hydrogen shortly after the fueling process went from a slow fill to a fast fill mode. Engineers believe the leak is in a cavity between the orbiter and external tank umbilical plates. While the leak's precise location is not known, tests today indicate the 17" line between the orbiter and the ET used to feed hydrogen to the orbiter's three main engines is contributing to the leak. The leak appears to be both temperature and flow-rate dependent.

Columbia is currently in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF). Its umbilical has been removed and is scheduled to be shipped to Rockwell-Downey this weekend for installation in a test stand for further leak testing. Tests of the ET side of the STS-35 umbilical did not reveal any leaks large enough to account for the leak seen during tanking of the STS-35 vehicle. Leonard Nicholson, Deputy Director, Space Shuttle Program, will lead the NASA/industry team charged with analyzing the cause of the leak and determining corrective actions. Until the cause of the leak has been determined, further processing of the STS-38 vehicle has been suspended. When the problem has been identified it is expected that STS-38 will be brought back to the VAB and the orbiter demated from the tank to make the necessary repairs. While a new target date is not known for the STS-38 launch, it is expected the flight will be delayed a minimum of two weeks.

Briefings to the news media updating the progress on the investigations are tentatively planned for Tuesday, July 3 and Friday, July 6 from NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. - end NASA news releases and other NASA information is available electronically on CompuServe and GEnie, the General Electric Network for Information Exchange. For information on CompuServe, call 1-800-848-8199 and ask for representative 176. For information on GEnie, call 1-800-638-9636.

TO: MDS/PRA Group 1615 L Street, N.W. - Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20036 DATE & TIME: JULY 2, 1990

ORDERED BY: Edward Campion NASA Headquarters/LMD 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20546 PHONE: 202/453-8400 PROJECT TITLE: Release No: 90-89 PRINT ORDER: 2276 PRINTING: Camera Ready, lst pg on NASA logo, other pages plain ENCLOSE & MAIL: Release of 2 pages MAIL DATE: JULY 3, 1990 EXTRA COPIES: Deliver specified quanities to locations below:

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