Science and Technology News

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Radius Block Installation to Begin on Discovery Tank

Technicians will begin installing additional support structures, called radius blocks, to space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank's support beams known as "stringers" as the shuttle stands inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The radius blocks are being added to 94 stringers, meaning the entire circumference of the external tank will be strengthened by the time all the repairs and modifications are finished.

At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, STS-133 Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Tim Kopra will rehearse procedures for the mission's second spacewalk today in the Neutral Buoyancy Facility, which is the massive swimming pool astronauts use to simulate the weightless conditions of space. The pool is large enough to hold full-scale replicas of International Space Station modules.

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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