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Published:June 23rd, 2006 03:40 EST
NASA Discovery Set for July 1 Launch

NASA Discovery Set for July 1 Launch

By SOP newswire

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew are set for a July 1 flight to the International Space Station. The STS-121 mission will visit the International Space Station and continue evaluating new shuttle safety improvements. At least two spacewalks are planned during the 12-day mission, which also includes repair work to the station.

NASA managers gave the green light after a lengthy Flight Readiness Review held June 16-17, a traditional meeting in which top NASA managers and engineers set launch dates, determine whether the shuttle's complex array of equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight and assess any risks associated with the mission.
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"The ice/frost ramps were one of the most vigorously discussed items," said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier. This [foam loss], is what we expect to see in flight. So when we get this data down, you should not be surprised."

The ice/frost ramps are structures made of insulation foam that cover 34 brackets on the outside of the shuttle's external fuel tank. The ramps have been cited as a potential source of foam loss, which could cause damage to the shuttle. The Flight Readiness Review board decided the current design does not pose sufficient risk to delay the upcoming mission while design improvements for later flights are under way.