One More Fuel Test For Discovery, Then Back To the Shop
NASA has made the decision to perform another fuel test on the Discovery space shuttle replacing its tank.
The shuttles first fuel test revealed sensor and valve problems making it unsafe. After the test, the shuttle will be taken back to the assembly building where it will recieve a safer fuel tank.
According to AP,
A heater that arrived at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday will be inserted on the new tank to prevent the buildup of ice once super-cold fuel is pumped in right before liftoff. Just last week, engineering tests found ice to be as dangerous as flying foam.
A large chunk of foam insulation broke off Columbia’s fuel tank during launch and gouged a hole in the left wing, dooming the spacecraft and its crew during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. All seven astronauts were killed.
A NASA spokesperson said that replacing the fuel tank would be faster and easier than trying to fix it.
NASA is still hopeful that the Discovery will launch in the middle of July on schedule. This will be the first mission since the Columbia disaster in 2003.