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Tile problems push back next shuttle launch to June 20
Posted: Fri, May 25, 2001, 11:18 AM ET (1518 GMT)
STS-104 patch Continued work to dry a number of wet thermal protection tiles will delay the next shuttle launch until at least June 20, shuttle managers said Thursday. Officials had announced on Wednesday that the launch of the shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-104 would be delayed at least two days until June 16, but on Thursday said the extra work needed to dry about 600 tiles will force the agency to delay the move of the orbiter to the Vehicle Assembly Building until May 29, delaying the launch as a result until June 20. Technicians are using 200-300 watt lamps to dry sections of tile underneath the leading edge of the right wing and near the left-hand main landing gear door. Those tiles became wet when the shuttle was exposed to rain after landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California after the STS-98 shuttle mission in February. The tiles must be dried to avoid having any moisture in them freeze while the shuttle is in orbit, raising the possibility that the tile could separate during reentry. Meanwhile, NASA Watch is reporting that the space agency is considering flying the STS-105 shuttle mission before STS-104 because of continuing problems with the new Canadarm2 robot arm on the International Space Station. STS-104 will deliver an airlock to the station; the airlock must be installed by the Canadarm2 as the shuttle's own robot arm cannot reach the location on the Unity module where the airlock will be attached.
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