NASA gives nod for space shuttle Discovery's launch on August 25

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Washington, August 20 (ANI): NASA has given its approval for the launch of space shuttle Discovery on August 25, after a two-day review of the spacecraft's readiness for flight.

Discovery's launch date was announced after a flight readiness review at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for launch pending the resolution of one remaining issue.

An orbiter power controller that failed to operate properly was replaced, and an analysis was completed.

The issue is expected to be closed when final data from the analysis is presented at the mission management team meeting on August 23.

The readiness review included a thorough discussion about foam insulation that covers the shuttle's external fuel tank.

The foam helps prevent ice from developing when super-cold propellants are loaded prior to launch.

During shuttle Endeavour's liftoff on July 15, foam separated from the intertank area and the liquid oxygen tank's ice frost ramps.

The foam loss led to a detailed examination that determined Discovery is acceptable to fly.

"There was an excellent discussion on foam loss that included input from multiple teams including our NASA safety and engineering communities," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, who chaired the day and a half meeting.

"After examining the foam releases on recent flights and completing a lot of testing and analysis to improve our understanding of the relative risks, we concluded that we're ready to go fly. The teams are continuing to learn about foam and have planned additional tests and analysis to continue to improve our understanding of foam loss mechanisms and risks," he added.

The 13-day flight will deliver science and storage racks to the International Space Station (ISS), a freezer to store research samples, a new sleeping compartment, an air purification system and a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert. (ANI)

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