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*NASA Gives Green Light for July 1 Discovery Launch*

TO VIEW STS-121 ON THE LAUNCH PAD GO TO:http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
Image above: Amid the glow of lights from the fixed and rotating service 
structures, Space Shuttle Discovery rests on the hardstand of Launch Pad 
39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley + 
View High-Res Image 

NASA senior managers on Saturday cleared the Space Shuttle Discovery for 
a July 1 flight to the International Space Station.

The decision was announced after a lengthy Flight Readiness Review, a 
traditional meeting in which top NASA managers and engineers set launch 
dates, determine whether the shuttle's complex array of equipment, 
support systems and procedures are ready for flight and assess any risks 
associated with the mission.

"We had two full days of an intensive Flight Readiness Review," said 
Administrator Michael Griffin. "It was spirited and one of the most 
open, yet non-adversarial meetings I've seen since returning to NASA."
+ Read Press Release 

William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Space Operations said 
"It was a tremendously good review. We were really careful in this. We 
reviewed everything we could and we think we are ready to go and fly."

"The ice frost ramps were one of the most vigorously discussed items. 
This [foam loss], is what we expect to see in flight. So when we get 
this data down, you should not be surprised," continued Gerstenmaier.

The ice/frost ramps are structures made of insulation foam that cover 34 
brackets on the outside of the shuttle's external fuel tank. The ramps 
have been cited as a potential source of foam loss, which could cause 
damage to the shuttle. The Flight Readiness Review board decided the 
current design does not pose sufficient risk to delay the upcoming 
mission while design improvements for later flights are under way.

"We are not tracking any major issues which would delay launch," said 
NASA Launch Director, Mike Leinbach. "Our countdown starts on June 28 
leading to T-0 on July 1. We see no reason why we can't go July 1 from 
our perspective. We are in good shape with Discovery on the Pad and good 
shape with Atlantis as well."

The STS-121 mission will visit the International Space Station and 
continue evaluating new shuttle safety improvements. At least two 
spacewalks are planned during the 12-day mission, which also includes 
repair work to the station.

+ STS-121 Press Kit (6 Mb PDF) 

+ June 17 Post FRR Press Briefing Charts 
+ May 31 Wayne Hale Briefing Transcript (112 Kb PDF) 
+ View Discovery Rollout Photo Gallery 
+ STS-121 Mission 
| + STS-121 Crew 
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