Astronauts ready to launch Discovery shuttle
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Astronauts ready to launch Discovery shuttle

However, a few engineers have asked NASA to wait till safety concerns are met.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2006 08:33 IST

Discovery shuttle is gearing up for another space adventure on July 1, the second test flight since the 2003 Columbia accident, despite a few engineers asking NASA to wait till safety concerns are met.

Commanded by astronaut Steven Lindsey, Discovery's STS-121 crew is slated to rocket spaceward on July 1 on a 13-day mission to test shuttle flight safety techniques and deliver vital supplies to the crew of the ISS.

Announcing the decision of the flight, shuttle programme manager Wayne Hale said if they waited to eliminate all risks, they would never fly.

"Section of foam on the tank most prone to causing damage to the shuttle has been removed...We have made the largest aerodynamic change to this vehicle that has been made since we started flying 25 years ago," he said.

The engineers, who are concerned about tiny defects in some of its electronic boxes, want more changes to be made to the vehicle's fuel tank. However, astronauts said they are willing to accept the higher risk and fly, in spite of known problems that could be fatal.

The space flight has a launch window that runs through July 19. "You could potentially cause critical damage," Lindsey said. "It's one of the top program risks."

Hale said NASA officials opted to fly the tank without redesigning the ramps because a tank renovation should be tested on its own during a flight before other changes are made.

First Published: Jun 11, 2006 08:33 IST