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Space Shuttle Discovery Getting an Upgraded Fuel Tank.
The Space Shuttle Discovery has returned to NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building to get a new, modified external fuel tank for its upcoming mission. The redesigned fuel tank has a heater on board that should help to minimize frost and ice buildup that could fall off and strike the shuttle during launch. Discovery will roll back out to the launch pad in mid-June, carrying its Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello. NASA is targeting to launch Discovery on July 13, 2005.
The Space Shuttle Discovery is back in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The Shuttle will get a new, modified external fuel tank to ensure a safe Return to Flight mission (STS-114).
Discovery, carried by a Crawler Transporter, entered the VAB at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The 10-hour, 4.2 mile trip from Launch Pad 39B was briefly interrupted due to an over heated bearing on the Transporter. Today's rollback was the 15th in Space Shuttle Program history.
"Rolling back Discovery was the right thing to do and demonstrates our commitment to a safe Return to Flight," said Shuttle Program Manager Bill Parsons. "We will continue to focus on the processing milestones and complete the additional analysis we determined was required, so that we continue to move toward a launch during the July window."
Technicians will de-mate Discovery from its External Tank (ET-120) and Solid Rocket Boosters on May 31. Discovery will be attached to ET-121 on June 7. ET-121 was originally scheduled to fly with the Shuttle Atlantis on the second Return to Flight mission (STS-121).
In the VAB, a new heater will be added to ET-121 on the feedline bellows. It is the part of the pipeline that carries liquid oxygen to the Shuttle's main engines, to minimize potential ice and frost buildup. The tank also has several safety improvements, including an improved bipod fitting that connects it to the Orbiter.
In addition, NASA's second redesigned tank has been outfitted with temperature sensors and accelerometers, used to measure vibration. These sensors will gather information about the tank's performance during flight.
After the heater is added to ET-121 and the Shuttle is attached to its new propulsion elements, Discovery will roll back out to Launch Pad 39B in mid-June. Discovery's payload, the Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello, will be installed in the payload bay, while the Shuttle is on the pad.
Launch of Discovery for STS-114 is targeted for July 13. The launch window extends to July 31. During its 12-day mission, Discovery's seven-person crew will test new hardware and techniques to improve Shuttle safety and deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
Video from the rollback will feed on NASA TV, available on the Web and via satellite in the continental U.S. on AMC-6, Transponder 9C, C-Band, at 72 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. It's available in Alaska and Hawaii on AMC-7, Transponder 18C, C-Band, at 137 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 4060.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. For NASA TV information and schedules on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Photos of the rollback are available on the Web at: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/index.cfm
For the latest information about NASA's Return to Flight efforts, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight
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