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    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Pensively, She Sits... Poised For Lift-Off

    The Discovery sits, waiting patiently on the launch pad. It has been 2 years since the Columbia shuttle disaster. America's aging shuttles are showing the wear and tear commonly associated with an underfunded program. Safety measures slipped by, and upgrades and new technology apparently not on the horizon.

    But now, Discovery is waiting to fly. A new upgrade has been added to help ensure that chunks of foam do not break off of the fuel tanks (this is what they say caused th elast disaster)... It will wait for a window anytime from mid-May to early June, and in the meantime, it is being fueled with a half a million gallons of cryogenic propellant.... and the new safety measures.

    They have installed electric heaters where there used to be ramp-shaped wedges of the foam insulation joinging the gigantic fuel tank to the shuttle. The heaters are meant to prevent ice-build-up on the outside of the tank, which can break off and damage the shuttle's heat shield and many other things during lift-off.

    Read more here on Reuters...

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