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STS-121 New Window For Next Space Shuttle Mission

> March 14, 2006
> Katherine Trinidad 
> Headquarters, Washington 
> (202) 358-3749 
> James Hartsfield/Kyle Herring 
> Johnson Space Center, Houston 
> (281) 483-5111 
> RELEASE: 06-092
> NASA announced today July 1 to 19, 2006, is the new launch planning 
> window for Space Shuttle Discovery's mission (STS-121). The window 
> gives the agency time to do additional engineering work and analysis 
> to ensure a safe flight for Discovery and its crew. 
> Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale made the announcement during 
> a news conference from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The 
> decision to target July followed a two-day meeting on the external 
> fuel tank's engine cutoff (ECO) sensors. The sensors indicate whether 
> the tank still has fuel during liftoff. During testing, one of the 
> four ECO sensors had a slightly different reading than is expected. 
> Shuttle officials have decided they will remove and replace all four 
> liquid hydrogen sensors. 
> "We've been saying for months that our engineering work would 
> determine when we fly our next mission. Targeting July is the right 
> choice in order to make smart decisions," said Bill Gerstenmaier, 
> NASA associate administrator for Space Operations. 
> Other issues factored into the decision to adjust the STS-121 planning 
> window: 
> Testing and analysis are required on the shuttle's modified external 
> tank. The testing will help verify the tank is safe to fly without 
> the protuberance air load (PAL) foam ramp. The PAL ramp was removed 
> after a large piece of foam fell from that area during Discovery's 
> July 2005 launch. More analysis is needed to decide whether changes 
> are needed on the tank's ice frost foam ramps. 
> Repair work on the shuttle's robotic arm must be completed. 
> Technicians on a work platform accidentally bumped the arm last week, 
> causing a tiny crack. The arm will be removed for repair. 
> The STS-121 mission will take Shuttle Commander Steve Lindsey and six 
> crew members to the International Space Station. This is the second 
> mission in the Return to Flight sequence to evaluate new heat shield 
> inspection and repair techniques and to deliver supplies and 
> equipment to the station. 
> For information about the Space Shuttle Program, the STS-121 mission 
> and its crew, visit: 
> http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle 
> -end-
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