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Sat, Apr 30, 2005

It's Official: NASA Announces July Launch Window

Much Still To Do

NASA announced Friday that July 13 to 31 is the new launch-planning window for the Space Shuttle Discovery mission. The new window gives the agency time to do additional work to ensure a safe Return to Flight for Discovery and its crew.

Friday's announcement followed a number of meetings over the past two weeks. Managers said they need to validate engineering analyses of potential debris hazards and to make additional modifications to the external fuel tank. NASA officials and program managers agreed to delay the launch late Thursday

"The conclusion out of the reviews… when all of the managers and all of the engineers had had their say was that we had enough work remaining to do, that trying to go in May or early June just wasn't the smartest thing," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at a news conference at NASA Headquarters.

"This is consistent with our overall approach to the STS-114 mission, which is that we're going to return to flight, we're not going to rush to flight," said Griffin. "Our intent with this effort is to make certain we are as safe as we know how to be before we launch the Space Shuttle and its crew. We want it to be right."

"From the beginning we've been milestone-driven," said William Readdy, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations. "This time, the milestones on debris and ice analyses, propulsion system troubleshooting and External Tank modifications drove us to retarget for July. We've never been reluctant to adjust the dates as information becomes available."

STS-114 will take Shuttle Commander Eileen Collins and six crew members to the International Space Station. They will test new thermal protection system inspection and repair techniques along with delivering needed supplies and equipment to the ISS.
 
In a message to NASA workers, Griffin said. "Flying this Shuttle brings with it great risk, risk that cannot be eliminated. No decision to launch the Shuttle can be routine. Sending brave men and women into space is not without risk, but we will do everything possible to reduce those risks. If it takes more time to achieve that goal, then so be it. I thank each of you for your hard work and dedication to NASA."

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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