Science and Technology News

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fuel Tank Stringer Scans Begin; Crew Arrives Today for Countdown Test

At NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A in Florida, technicians are performing high-tech X-ray scans of the tops and bottoms of 50 support beams, called stringers, on the shuttle-facing side of space shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank. The scans should take about a week to complete and are expected to confirm there are no problems with the tank's stringers. Scans began Sunday due to strong storms on Saturday, which caused no damage to the shuttle and pad. Atlantis is being prepared for the STS-135 mission, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, targeted for launch July 8.

Science technicians will begin to replace a suspected leaky valve in Atlantis' space shuttle main engine No. 3 today.

Late this afternoon, the mission's four veteran astronauts are scheduled to fly to Kennedy from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They're set to arrive in T-38 jets at about 5:45 p.m. EDT to begin their prelaunch countdown dress rehearsal, called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, and related training. Their arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility will be carried live on NASA TV and on the Web at

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