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STS-120 Final Flight Readiness Review Today


*Final Flight Readiness Review Today*
16 October 2007

NASA managers are gathered at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today 
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. At the conclusion of today's 
review, agency managers will announce an official launch date at a live 
news conference on NASA TV 
<http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html>. The conference is 
scheduled to begin no earlier than 6 p.m. EDT.

  Image at Left: Discovery stands bathed in sunlight at its seaside 
launch pad on the day it rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building. 
Since then, it has been enclosed by the rotating service structure as 
launch preparations continue. Image credit: NASA/George Shelton
+ 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 today'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 
last 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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