Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Atlantis fully fueled during tanking test

The shuttle's Final Inspection Team is headed to launch pad 39A to examine Atlantis' fully fueled external tank.

NASA has reported no problems with the insulating foam covering the 15-story tank during today's test, which is intended to ensure that bolstered support braces on the tank's mid-section aren't damaged by the stress of tanking.

Cameras have not spotted any cracks today, but the inspection team, often called the "ice team," will take a closer look and review the entire tank and pad for build up of ice and frost or any other issues.

Their inspection will take more than two hours, and the tank will be drained of its half-million gallons of propellant later today.

One technical problem did crop up during fueling, when a shuttle main engine fuel valve recorded low temperatures.

They returned to normal, and engineers will evaluate any work necessary prior to Atlantis' targeted July 8 launch on the final shuttle mission.

The launch pad's Rotating Service Structure will remain open until Friday, after the mission's primary payload is delivered to the pad and hoisted into the RSS prior for installation into the orbiter's payload bay.

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