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Cape Canaveral

The Cape Week in Review – Cocaine Inquiry Closes and Shuttle Launch Manifest Changes

By jason_rhian
June 14, 2010
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After a recent series of launches, this past week was much quieter at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral although two major stories seemed to slide almost under the radar. First it was announced that the investigation regarding cocaine that was discovered in one of the Orbiter Processing Facilities (OPF) was closed. As well it now appears that the launch dates for the last two shuttle scheduled missions will slip back – pushing the end of the program into mid-2011.

KSC Cocaine case closed
On January 12th a KSC employee reporting to work discovered a small bag of cocaine in Discovery’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF). An investigation was opened and employees that worked in that area were screened for drug use. However, with no employees either testing positive or coming forward to admit guilt investigators did not have much to go on and ended this week with no arrests.
The employee who found and turned in the small bag of white powder did not know what it was, upon testing it tested positive for cocaine. Shortly after the cocaine was discovered some 200 employees were tested for drug use after the incident. With none of the employees coming up positive the investigation quickly ground to a halt.
Both NASA and the primary contractor that works in the OPF, United Space Alliance (USA) identified the personnel that had access to the restricted area where the bag was located and ordered drug tests.
Shuttle mission managers then reviewed work that had been done on the orbiters but found no deficiencies or anything abnormal. With no leads to go on the case was closed this week with no disciplinary actions taken. Discovery flew three months after the discovery with no incidents.
Final two shuttle missions launch dates likely to slip
It was announced this week that the launch dates for the final two scheduled space shuttle flights would likely be pushed back. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana made this announcement Wednesday, June 9 at a meeting of the National Space Club held at the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral.
The final flight of Discovery, STS-133 would only slip about a month. Currently it is scheduled to launch on September 16, but the launch will now probably take place some time in late October or early November. Endeavour faces a longer wait with her November launch date now not taking place to some time early next year with February being mentioned as the possible month when STS-134 will take place.
A problem cropped up with Endeavour’s payload, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, (AMS-02) the device cannot make it to the Kennedy Space Center in time to be loaded aboard the orbiter in time for launch. Currently the AMS-02 is not scheduled to arrive at KSC until July. The AMS-02 will be connected to the International Space Station’s S3 truss segment. This piece of equipment contains a large magnet and is built to look for antimatter and to seek out data regarding dark matter.
There has been a push for a third mission to the International Space Station, if approved the shuttle Atlantis would be used to conduct that mission. There has been no final determination on whether or not that would take place, if so the president and Congress would have to sign off on it. If a third flight is cleared it is thought that it would take place in June of 2011.

The Cape Week in Review is compiled by Jason Rhian, the Cape Insider, and is a weekly
round-up of what’s happening at Cape Canaveral. If you have information or suggestions for the Cape Week in Review please email us at