Additional Image Scans for Discovery's External Tank

Technicians in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida are taking Friday and Saturday off for the holiday after removing foam insulation and test sensors from space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank.

Beginning Sunday, Dec. 26, crews start a week’s worth of additional x-ray type image scans of all 108 support beams, called stringers, on the outside of external tank’s intertank section. While additional scans are under way, engineers at various other NASA locations continue data analysis to help determine what caused small cracks on the tops of two stringers during Discovery’s launch countdown on Nov. 5.

On Dec. 21, Space Shuttle Program managers decided to protect the option of performing known and practiced modifications on some of the stringers, if testing and analysis indicates that it is necessary. Managers are expected to decide whether modifications are needed on Dec. 30.

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