Thursday, February 10, 2011

Discovery faces flight readiness review

Shuttle program managers are set to meet by video conference at 9 a.m. EST today for the first of two planned reviews of Discovery's readiness for a targeted Feb. 24 launch.

Called a Delta Flight Readiness Review, the process follows reviews last October that cleared Discovery for a Nov. 1 blastoff on its final flight.

Various technical and weather issues caused delays before a launch scrub Nov. 5 because of a hydrogen gas leak during fueling. Then Discovery wound up leaving the launch pad for external tank repairs.

Today's review will update all the work done on the shuttle since the last launch attempt and its overall readiness for an 11-day mission that will deliver a storage module to the International Space Station.

Barring any problems, the review will recommend proceeding to an agency-level review planned Feb. 18 at Kennedy Space Center, where an official launch date will be set. A press conference will follow that meeting.

IMAGE: On Feb. 1, dawn broke over the Atlantic Ocean near launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center to reveal space shuttle Discovery newly arrived for its upcoming launch. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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