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STS-120 Final Flight Readiness Review Set for Tuesday


  	*Final Flight Readiness Review Set for Tuesday*

NASA managers are set to gather at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in 
Florida on Tuesday for a final readiness review for the upcoming flight 
of space shuttle Discovery. The STS-120 mission to the International 
Space Station is currently targeted for launch on Oct. 23. Agency 
managers will decide on an official launch date at the conclusion of 
Tuesday's review.

  Image Above: Commander Pam Melroy, in front, and Mission Specialist 
Stephanie Wilson secure themselves in a T-38 jet aircraft for takeoff. 
The STS-120 astronauts departed Kennedy Space Center Oct. 10 following 
the terminal countdown demonstration test. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
+ View larger image 

Last week, the STS-120 astronauts capped off three days of exercises and 
training at Kennedy by boarding Discovery for a simulated countdown on 
Oct. 10. After the rehearsal concluded, the crew members flew back to 
their home base at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to complete 
their final preparations for liftoff.

While the astronauts practiced for launch, shuttle program managers held 
two days of meetings in advance of this week's review. One of the topics 
discussed before the conclusion of last week's program review involved 
the reinforced carbon-carbon, or RCC, on Discovery's wing leading edge 
panels. In the past, there have been post-flight indications that the 
edges of a couple of panels have lost small amounts of their upper-level 
coating. Thermography, or thermal imagery, has been used to inspect the 
panels in order to identify any internal defects that could lead to 
coating loss.

The NASA Engineering and Safety Center has been working with shuttle 
engineers to better understand the potential causes of coating loss. At 
Wednesday's meeting, the center recommended replacing three of 
Discovery's 44 panels.

Discovery has flown at least twice with these panels in the current 
condition, and with no indications of degradation based on thermography. 
At this point, the Space Shuttle Program has determined that Discovery's 
astronauts can safely carry out their mission without having to replace 
the panels.

*Mission Information*
+ STS-120 Mission Overview 
+ Harmony Node 2 

+ Space Shuttle Discovery 

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