Space Shuttle Discovery Continues Launch Preparations

Next Scheduled Launch Just A Week Away

While space shuttle Discovery's STS-128 launch preparations continue at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, the astronaut crew completed its final planned integrated ascent training in Houston at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Launch is planned for 0158 EDT on Monday, August 24th.

Late last week, shuttle managers approved 18 additional plug pull tests on the orbiter side of the external fuel tank to ensure there are no issues with its intertank region. Engineers at the tank's manufacturing plant in New Orleans are assessing high-tech X-ray data to ensure protective foam ramps on the tank slated for November's STS-129 mission show no defects.

The ice-frost ramps (IFR) protect brackets along the external tank from development of ice when super-cold liquid oxygen and hydrogen are loaded prior to launch. Foam loss during the last two shuttle launches from one particular IFR high up on the liquid oxygen tank has led to a detailed examination to determine if it is acceptable to launch Discovery without further work.

Meanwhile, the STS-128 crew conducted its final launch training session integrated with Mission Control before heading into quarantine Monday. They will fly to Kennedy on Wednesday to prepare for launch.


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