Wed, Apr 26, 2006
Griffin: "We're In Pretty Good Shape"
NASA officials are
guardedly optimistic about meeting deadlines for a scheduled July
launch for the space shuttle Discovery... especially since they
have some built-in time to handle any last-minute delays.
"There is two weeks of schedule margin to preserve the July 1
launch date," Administrator Michael D. Griffin said last week.
"We're in pretty good shape."
That might be the best news to come from the shuttle program in
some time, as already the shuttle's second return to flight has
been plagued with industrial accidents at the Kennedy Space Center,
ongoing questions about the foam that encases Discovery's external
fuel tank, and concerns about other shuttle systems.
NASA needs to fly the shuttles twice a year between now and 2010
to keep up with its ambitious schedule for completion of the
International Space Station.
Still, NASA says it's confident that the shuttle will fly in
July -- after being delayed for a couple of months because of
ongoing concerns about the fuel tank foam and how it might impact
Griffin told C-SPAN he's not worried... not unless more delays
push this next flight off until after the end of the year.
The next big hurdle for Discovery? A series of wind tunnel tests
on the new foam design -- which removed a large ramp that once
protected fuel system plumbing and electrical connections from
aerodynamic loads during launch.
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