Additional Data Evaluated, External Tank’s New Cracks To Be Repaired

The Space Shuttle Program management team was provided a status Thursday on the continuing investigation, testing and analysis regarding shuttle Discovery's External Tank stringer crack issue.
 
Following the rollback of Discovery's STS-133 stack to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Wednesday, Dec. 22, engineers immediately began the work to continue evaluation of the intertank area of the External Tank. Since the rollback data analysis from a tanking test has continued to be reviewed along with “non-destructive evaluation” (X-rays) of stringers that were not accessible at the launch pad.
 
The X-rays showed four additional small cracks on three stringers on the opposite side of the tank from Discovery, and managers elected to repair those cracks in a similar fashion to repairs made on cracks discovered after the Nov. 5 launch attempt. That work is estimated to take 2–3 days. Any further work will be evaluated thoroughly early next week after additional data is reviewed. The hardware is in place to perform any modification. That work would be performed inside the VAB.
 
Managers continue to evaluate an option to perform known and practiced modifications on additional stringers. A decision may be made as early as Monday, Jan. 3.
 
The next available launch date is Thursday, Feb. 3 at the opening of a window that extends through Feb. 10. The current preferred launch time on Feb. 3 is 1:37 a.m. EST.

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Discovery Tank Scans Complete, New Small Cracks Detected

Technicians in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are essentially done with the latest round of X-ray type image scans of space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank.

The computed radiography images of all 108 support beams, called stringers, on the outside of the external tank’s intertank section, which technicians began taking Sunday, are being evaluated by engineers.

However, preliminary analysis indicates small cracks were detected on the tops of three stringers on panel 6, which is on the opposite side of the tank from Discovery. The newly detected cracks currently are under evaluation and there has been no decisions on what affect, if any, these cracks will make on future plans.

The new data, along with previous testing and analysis, will help engineers and managers determine what caused other small cracks on the tops of two stringers during Discovery’s launch countdown on Nov. 5.

Space Shuttle Program managers are meeting this afternoon to decide whether testing and analysis indicate modifications are needed on some of the stringers. If required, modifications would begin next Monday (Jan. 3).

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Sparkle

This Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy NGC 1275 reveals the fine, thread-like filamentary structures in the gas surrounding the galaxy. The red filaments are composed of cool gas being suspended by a magnetic field, and are surrounded by the 100-million-degree Fahrenheit hot gas in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster. The filaments are dramatic markers of the feedback process through which energy is transferred from the central massive black hole to the surrounding gas. The filaments originate when cool gas is transported from the center of the galaxy by radio bubbles that rise in the hot interstellar gas. At a distance of 230 million light-years, NGC 1275 is one of the closest giant elliptical galaxies and lies at the center of the Perseus cluster of galaxies. The galaxy was photographed in July and August 2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration; Acknowledgment: A. Fabian (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK)

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A well deserved hug

A well deserved hug
Maj. Doug Welter, Air Force Space Command Directorate of Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, receives a hug from his mother, Linda Welter after he was presented the Bronze Star Medal Dec. 29 here at Headquarters AFSPC. Major Welter earned the BSM for his deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez)
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The Bronze Star Medal presented

The Bronze Star Medal presented
Col. Joseph Schwarz, Air Force Space Command Directorate of Logistics, Installations and Mission Support deputy director, pins the Bronze Star Medal onto Maj. Doug Welter, AFSPC Directorate of Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, during the BSM presentation ceremony Dec. 29 here at Headquarters AFSPC. Major Welter earned the BSM for his deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez)
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