Tanking Test Being Planned for Middle to Late Next Week

Engineers met yesterday to discuss plans for an instrumented test on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank. The test will verify repairs associated with cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. NASA repaired the cracks and reapplied foam to the exterior of the stringers. Details still are being discussed. Plans call for temperature and strain gauge measurements in the intertank region near the top of the tank during the test. The tanking test is being planned for the mid- to late-next week.

NASA managers have targeted Discovery's launch for no earlier than Feb. 3 at 1:34 a.m. EST. Shuttle managers determined more tests and analysis are needed before proceeding with the launch of the STS-133 mission to the International Space Station.

NASA will review and analyze the data from the tests before setting a launch date. Because of Discovery's delayed launch, the earliest opportunity for the liftoff of the final scheduled shuttle mission, STS-134 on Endeavour, is April 1.

Today at NASA's Johnson Space Center, the STS-133 crew is reviewing its flight plan.

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