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Discovery has foam cracks, but will be launched anyway

Posted on Tuesday, July 04 2006 @ 01:12:27 CEST by

NASA discovered a small cavity in the foam insulation of the giant fuel tank of space shuttle Discovery, but officials say they plan to go ahead with the launch tomorrow.
``Hopefully what we'll do is meet at 6:30 tonight, summarize where we are with inspections and concerns, and go launch tomorrow,'' said John Shannon, deputy manager of the shuttle program, in a televised press conference.

Crews discovered the hole, three inches long and a quarter- inch wide, last night, Shannon said. The chunk that fell weighed about 0.006 pounds, too little to threaten the shuttle's heat tiles if it hit them during launch, Shannon said.

Michael Griffin, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, cleared the Discovery for launch last month, overruling ``no go'' votes from the chief safety officer and a top engineer. They said insulation could break off during launch, posing a risk to the vehicle. In 2003, a falling chunk of foam punctured the shuttle Columbia's heat shields, dooming the craft and its crew of seven.
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