Shuttle Discovery Rolls Back to Vehicle Assembly Building

Space shuttle Discovery waits to roll back from Launch Pad 39A to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours of Dec 21, 2010, with the beginning of the total lunar eclipse clearly in view. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Overnight, space shuttle discovery left launch pad 39A and was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. There, engineers can use digital X-ray equipment to look at the external fuel tank and attempt to determine what caused the tops of two, 21-foot-long support beams, called stringers, on the outside of the intertank to crack during fueling on Nov. 5. Additionally, foam will be reapplied where 89 sensors were installed on the tank’s aluminum skin for an instrumented tanking test on Dec. 17. The sensors were used to measure changes in the tank last week as super-cold propellants were pumped in and drained out.

This rollback of Discovery was her sixth, and the 20th rollback in the space shuttle program. If everything checks out in the VAB, Discovery is slated to return to the launchpad around January 14, 2011. Discovery’s next launch opportunity is no earlier than Feb. 3. (…) Read the rest of Shuttle Discovery Rolls Back to Vehicle Assembly Building (137 words)

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