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Fw: SPACE SHUTTLE FLEET SET FOR RETURN TO FLIGHT SEPT. 28



Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC


Ed Campion
Headquarters, Washington        August 2, 2002
(Phone: 202/358-1694)

Kyle Herring
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

RELEASE: 02-149

SPACE SHUTTLE FLEET SET FOR RETURN TO FLIGHT SEPT. 28

     Following an extensive investigation into the cause of 
tiny cracks inside fuel lines of the four space shuttle 
orbiters, NASA today announced the team is ready to resume 
preparations for launching on Sept. 28, with Atlantis up 
first on an assembly mission to the International Space 
Station (ISS).

"We've just completed a thorough review of the team's 
findings and recommendations, and I am pleased to report to 
you that -- pending the satisfactory completion of welding 
repairs -- we plan to resume shuttle flights by the end of 
September," said Ron Dittemore, NASA Space Shuttle Program 
Manager, Johnson Space Center, Houston. "There always will be 
inherent risks in space flight and it's our job to manage 
those risks appropriately."

A welding and polishing process is being implemented that 
will restore flow-liner integrity to design condition. These 
liners are inside the space shuttle Main Propulsion System 
fuel lines to preclude liquid hydrogen and oxygen turbulent 
flow into the engines during launch and climb to orbit.

The technique calls for welds of three very small cracks on 
Atlantis and two on Endeavour, which now is targeted for a 
launch no earlier than Nov. 2, also to the ISS. Additionally, 
the microscopic rough edges of the liner holes will be 
smoothed by polishing to reduce the chance of more cracks 
developing in the future.

These two ISS assembly missions (STS-112/9A and STS-113/11A) 
will deliver additional segments for the station's eventual 
360-foot-long truss structure. STS-113 will serve as an ISS 
crew-rotation mission as well.

Columbia's 16-day dedicated research mission (STS-107) is 
targeted for no earlier than Nov. 29, pending further review.

The welding repair was chosen after several groups of 
engineers determined the most likely cause of these cracks is 
high-cycle fatigue -- a phenomenon attributed to combined 
environments such as vibration, thermal and acoustics.

Space shuttle flights have been on hold while teams of 
engineers evaluated, from a safety-of-flight standpoint, the 
cause of these tiny cracks discovered in June.

                       -end -

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