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NASA: some shuttle fixes behind schedule
Posted: Sat, Jun 19, 2004, 12:59 PM ET (1659 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) NASA shuttle managers said Friday that some planned fixes to the shuttle fleet, including a boom to inspect damage to the orbiter and the ability to repair significant damage to the shuttle's leading edge panels, may not be ready by the time the shuttle is scheduled to return to flight next March. Managers said that work on a boom designed to allow astronauts to inspect the underside of the orbiter has proved harder than expected. In addition, while engineers have developed repair kits to deal with small holes in the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the leading edge of the wings, it has not yet developed a technique to deal with holes as large as that which doomed the shuttle Columbia last year. Officials said they are considering whether they can safely launch the shuttle if those tools aren't ready by next March, but have made no decisions yet. NASA is currently planning to have a rescue shuttle ready to launch within 30-90 days if a shuttle on-orbit has problems; the damaged shuttle would remain at the International Space Station.
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