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SHUTTLE CLEARED FOR LANDING



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468

Melissa Mathews/James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston					August 4, 2005
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Jessica Rye
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)

RELEASE: 05-214

NASA CLEARS SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY FOR LANDING

     Space Shuttle mission managers today completed their assessment of 
Discovery's fitness to handle the rigors of re-entry into the 
atmosphere. 

"We have cleared Discovery to re-enter," said Wayne Hale, chairman of 
the Mission Management Team (MMT), during a news conference at NASA's 
Johnson Space Center, Houston.  

The MMT determined the Orbiter's heat shield and other systems are in 
good shape. They also decided a spacewalk is unnecessary to repair 
damage to a thermal blanket on Discovery's outer skin. 

Earlier this week, Discovery (STS-114) mission managers determined two 
components of the Shuttle's Thermal Protection System, tile and 
Reinforced Carbon-Carbon, were fit for re-entry and landing. Today, the 
MMT cleared the final element: thermal blankets. One blanket is 
slightly torn and billowing in orbit.

The MMT considered the results of overnight testing at NASA's Ames 
Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Engineers ran samples of torn 
thermal blankets through wind tunnels at velocities many times faster 
than the speed of sound. Tests showed it was highly unlikely the 
blanket would tear off or strike the Orbiter. Other analyses showed the 
blankets would still protect Discovery from re-entry heat.

Based on the analysis of the blankets and considering the risks of a 
fourth spacewalk, mission managers decided the torn blanket did not 
need repair. "We've assessed this risk to the very best of our 
knowledge, and we believe the risk is small," Hale said.  

New imaging capabilities developed after the Space Shuttle Columbia 
accident allowed mission managers to see and analyze the torn thermal 
blanket. Data from the images were used to re-create blanket samples 
for the wind tunnel tests.  "I think it's remarkable we have capability 
to look at these small things in flight," Hale said.

Discovery is set to land Monday, Aug. 8 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, 
Fla.  The first opportunity for Commander Eileen Collins to land the 
Space Shuttle is at 4:46 a.m. EDT.

For information about STS-114 on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight


For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html
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