HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A hydraulic system failure during a shuttle booster test-firing prevented NASA from gathering vital data on how new O-ring joints respond to external launch forces, space agency engineers said Friday.
Collecting such data was a major objective of the rocket firing Thursday, but officials said the problem will be corrected for future tests and the failure will have no impact on plans to launch the space shuttle Discovery in June.
The 52-foot subscale booster was fired at the Marshall Space Flight Center in the first of a series of tests to subject new O-ring joints to both internal and external forces similar to those at liftoff.
The shuttle Challenger was destroyed last year in an explosion blamed on a joint failure. The objective of the test Thursday was to evaluate how the joints respond to the external forces, or loads, on the shuttle boosters from three giant struts that attach the rockets to the external fuel tank.