STS-133 - Discovery Rolls Off Launch Pad for Repairs Tests Print
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Wednesday, 22 December 2010 22:10

Space shuttle Discovery moved from Launch Pad 39A back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours of Dec. 21. Once in the VAB, crews will scan below Discovery’s external fuel tank foam insulation around the entire intertank section to look for any issues, such as cracks. They also will reapply foam after 89 sensors are removed from the tank’s aluminum skin following an instrumented tanking test on Dec. 17.


The tank holds super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, which cause the tank to shrink by about half an inch. The scans will help verify repairs associated with cracks on the tops of two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets called stringers, which line the intertank, and help engineers determine what caused the cracks in the first place during Discovery’s launch attempt on Nov. 5.


The fully assembled space shuttle, consisting of orbiter Discovery, the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters, is mounted on a mobile launcher platform and returned to the VAB atop a crawler transporter. The crawler travels slower than 1 mph during the 3.4-mile journey, which took about eight hours.


Managers and engineers will review the test data to determine the next course of action. Discovery’s next launch opportunity for its STS-133 mission to the International Space Station is no earlier than Feb. 3.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 19:12
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