NASA shuttle to launch July 13

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

The US space agency said it has done all it can to ensure problems that led to the Columbia accident are not repeated, with the remaining shuttles having undergone major safety changes.

NASA has also been forced to undertake major reforms.

The Columbia shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere as it prepared to land, causing the deaths of its seven crew members.

“Based on a very thorough, very successful review, we are currently (ready for a) launch of Discovery on July 13,” said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, adding the date is the earliest in the shuttle’s 19-day launch window.

“We believe this is the cleanest flight we have ever done,” he said.

“The only other flight that will be cleaner is the next flight.”

However he acknowledged that all space flights carry risks, but NASA said has done all it can to minimise potential problems.

NASA had originally hoped to launch the shuttle in May, but in April said more work was needed on a redesigned fuel tank.

The Discovery shuttle has since been rolled on to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, awaiting the go-ahead for the launch.

NASA experts held a final ‘flight readiness review’ on Wednesday and Thursday, after engineers last week finished a detailed examination of modifications.

Columbia suffered damage to a wing from falling debris as it launched, which was blamed on damage sustained by the spacecraft after it was hit by chunks of insulating foam that broke off during lift-off.

The new launch will go ahead despite a safety panel’s findings earlier this week that NASA has not yet fully met three of the 15 conditions set by an official inquiry for the resumption of flights.

It said NASA experts had failed to eliminate the possibility of pieces of foam and ice breaking off the external fuel tank and striking the shuttle during lift-off.

NASA is also rolling out the shuttle Atlantis on July 20 to support Discovery’s mission.

If Discovery is damaged and cannot return to Earth, NASA plans to harbour astronauts at the International Space Station until Atlantis can be launched on a rescue mission.

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