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NASA Burns Midnight Rocket Fuel

John Stith
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-05-24

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NASA continues work on the Discovery to prepare it for a July launch. NASA say the big bird will go back to the ISS despite all the testing, repairs and replacements they've put it through since delaying the May launch date.

NASA crews will wheel the hulking bird back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to slap another external tank on it and continue to examine various points on the shuttle. Then they will wheel it back out in June, preparing for the launch window of July 13th to July 31st.

NASA still has a few points left to deal with besides the big fuel tank. The point of the big tank is to avert problems the Columbia faced that eventually caused its doom. NASA plans to add a heater unit to its propellant line to prevent ice from forming. The ice formed on the Columbia and caused pieces of its shielding to be damaged and cause its incineration in while returning to earth.

They are examining landing gear doors after some small cracks were found on the Atlantis. The Atlantis problems have been fixed. They've not found any on the other shuttle, Endeavor. Also, another tank fuel test may be needed. If they elect to go with this one, then that will probably delay the launch a few days from the July 13th goal.

Finally will be the inspection based on the recommendations of the expert, independent review panel. Former astronauts Jim Stafford and Richard Covey will lead the team performing the inspection covering the 15 points recommended by the review panel. Six of the points are completed, 2 more are underway. The team will talk to NASA folks on June 6 to advise on the assessment.

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About the Author:
John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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