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Shuttle rolls out as schedule concerns mount
Posted: Thu, Apr 7, 2005, 8:45 AM ET (1245 GMT)
STS-114: rollout (NASA/KSC) The space shuttle Discovery rolled out to the launch pad Wednesday in preparation for a launch this month even as agency officials and others raised doubts that the shuttle will make its May 15 launch date. The rollout of Discovery to pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center started two hours late when inspectors found a crack in insulation on the shuttle's external tank; engineers decided that the crack was not a barrier to moving the shuttle to the pad. The shuttle's arrival at the launch pad was also delayed by a glitch with the crawler carrying the shuttle. The shuttle's arrival at the pad does keep preparations on track for a May 15 launch of Discovery on STS-114, the first post-Columbia shuttle flight, but earlier this week shuttle managers acknowledged there was, at best, only a 50-50 chance of making that launch date because all the cushion in the schedule leading up to the launch had been used up. Moreover, the delay in the final report by the Stafford-Covey task force, reviewing NASA's implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, could also delay the launch. MSNBC reported that sources claimed there have been "major disagreements" among members of the task force regarding NASA's adoption of the recommendations that could delay its final report.
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