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Crack found in shuttle propellant line assembly
Posted: Thu, Dec 12, 2002, 10:34 AM ET (1534 GMT)
Engineers have discovered a small crack in a propellant line assembly in the shuttle Discovery, raising questions whether similar flaws may exist in other orbiters. Technicians working on Discovery found a crack in a cobalt bearing — described in reports as being slightly larger than a golf ball or the size of a cue ball — in a flow line that carries liquid oxygen to the shuttle's three main engines. The bearing is part of an assembly that provides support to the line when it flexes. Engineers are concerned that a piece of the cracked bearing could come off and get into the engines while in use. The problem does not appear to be related to cracks in flow liners in shuttle fuel lines found earlier this year that grounded the shuttle fleet for several months. While NASA officials said they believe the problem is most likely isolated to Discovery, they do plan to inspect Atlantis to look for any cracks in its bearings. There are no plans to inspect Columbia, currently on the pad for a mid-January launch.
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