Discovery's final mission slips to next year

The final flight of the space shuttle Discovery has slipped to no-earlier-than Feb. 3. Image Credit: NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA has decided to reschedule the final flight of space shuttle Discovery – again. Discovery’s last launch is now scheduled to take place on Feb. 3 at 1:34 a.m. EDT. Mission managers decided that more tests were required before going ahead with the launch of the STS-133 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). 

After a flight review meeting was held on Thursday and reviewed the evaluations of the cracks on the aluminum brackets, dubbed ‘stringers.’ NASA technicians have repaired the cracks and reapplied foam to the exterior of the exposed section. However, despite the fact that all appears well with the orbiter, NASA is playing it safe. 

It is with safety in mind that NASA managers have decided that the spacecraft analysis and tests required to launch Discovery safely – have yet to be completed. NASA is planning to conduct a thorough test of the shuttle’s external fuel tank.  The exact when and where of the of these tests have yet to be announced, but it will almost assuredly mean that the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour – STS-134 – will be moved further back. Until today, Endeavour was slated to launch in February. NASA has yet to announce whether or not an STS-135 mission will be flown (the shuttle Atlantis would fly this mission).

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