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Shuttle Launch Delayed Due To Satellite TV Repairs
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CAP) - For the third time in less than a week, NASA officials have delayed the planned launch of the shuttle Endeavor to the international space station, pushing the next attempt out at least a month. This time they say the issues are due to problems with the shuttle's satellite television system.
"Yes, we did discover a second leak in the hydrogen gas vent that connects to the external fuel tank," said deputy space shuttle program manager LeRoy Cain. "However, one of the crew members noticed a problem with a number of the channels in our DirecTV system, and that's where we're focusing our efforts."
The channels in question include all 35 specialty sports networks and most of the music stations, as well as an untold number of the HD Access channels, including A&E, Biography, National Geographic and Spike TV. The crew's ability to watch movies via DirecTV On Demand has also been spotty at best.
"None of the HBO's are working except for HBO Latino, and who the hell watches that?" said Cain. "Listen, orbiting the Earth is frigging boring as hell, and there are only so many games of Cribbage you can play floating in zero gravity. We have to get this TV working, period."
Cain said he's had half a dozen of his top engineers on the phone with DireTV customer service almost constantly since they first noticed the problem yesterday, but they're no closer to fixing it now than they were then. They put in for a service call almost immediately, but were told it could take a week to get a repairman out to the launch pad.
"If they have me check the connections one more time, I'm gonna lose it," said Endeavour commander Mark Polansky. "I am this close - this close - to just calling Dish Network. I mean, seriously."
In the meantime, President Obama has sanctioned a task force to look into whether the recent digital transition played any role in the current satellite TV problems. He said if it comes down to it, he will lend the Endeavor crew some videos from his own personal collection to help keep them occupied in space.
"Uhh, I've got Roots, The Color Purple, and, uhh, the 1972 classic Superfly starring Ron O'Neal," said Obama as he thumbed through a pile of VHS tapes. "Or books. I have books. Never hurts to read a good book. How about a book?"
Cain said representatives from Comcast have been calling NASA incessantly since news of the TV situation broke, despite repeated attempts to explain to them why cable TV won't work for the shuttle's purposes. "Plus that two-year commitment on their Triple Play package is just a little much," noted Cain.
NASA officials said in the event that the repairs are not completed in time for the next launch date, they are stocking up on a variety of other activities for the shuttle astronauts, including magnetic travel Scrabble, Bendaroos flexible building sticks, and the vintage '70s board game Bermuda Triangle.
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