Science and Technology News

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Managers Confident in Discovery Tank Fix

Space shuttle Discovery remains in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) as modifications and repairs are made to the external fuel tank's support beams known as "stringers." Additional support structures called radius blocks are being added to 95 stringers, meaning the entire circumference of the external tank will be strengthened by the time all the repairs and modifications are finished.

"It's been a long road," said John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager. "I'm very confident we have it finally figured out and we have a fix. We're going to fly with a lot of confidence in this tank."

Discovery will not launch on the STS-133 mission before Feb. 24, but shuttle managers have not yet chosen a target date for the mission. The schedule depends in part on traffic at the International Space Station during that time frame. A European cargo spacecraft, ATV-2, is scheduled to launch to the station Feb. 15 carrying supplies and equipment.

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