Thursday, August 13, 2009

Watch It Live: NASA Outlines Next Shuttle Mission

NASA managers still are struggling to determine whether Discovery should be launched to the International Space Station around Aug. 25, or whether the shuttle should be rolled back to its assembly building for external tank repairs.

You can watch and hear the latest live here in The Flame Trench as NASA holds a series of preflight media briefings between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. today. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer, and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

Here's the latest: NASA managers were briefed Tuesday and Wednesday on external tank foam losses seen on the past two shuttle missions, and one in October 2007.

There is concern about two areas:

++A suspect ice frost ramp. One of 34 metal brackets that hold pressurization lines and electrical cabling to the side of the 15-story tank shed significant amounts of foam insulation during the launch of Endeavour in July and Atlantis in May.

++Foam insulation on the central portion of the tank peeled away during the Endeavour launch in July -- a phenomenon not seen since the shuttle fleet returned to flight after the July 2003 Columbia accident.

NASA managers are putting together a plan to do additional non-destructive testing at launch pad 39A, where Discovery is poised for flight.

But other repairs, if required, might have to be done in the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building.

Hear the latest from shuttle program manager John Shannon at a 9 a.m. shuttle and station program overview briefing.

STS-128 mission and spacewalk overview briefings will follow before the Discovery astronauts hold a traditional prelaunch news conference.

Tune in all day today in The Flame Trench. And your comments are always welcome.

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