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ExoLance
Cracks found in shuttle tank foam
Posted: Wed, Nov 23, 2005, 7:22 AM ET (1222 GMT)
STS-114: launch (NASA) Shuttle managers said Tuesday that technicians have found several small cracks in a problematic piece of foam on a space shuttle external tank. Officials said that examination of one external tank turned up nine small cracks in the PAL ramp, an area that was the source of a chunk of foam that came off the external tank used in July's launch of the shuttle Discovery. The tank in question had been filled twice with cryogenic propellants during tanking tests on the pad prior to Discovery's launch, but was replaced before launch. Engineers don't know yet what caused the cracks, and plan to continue testing to track down the problem. NASA had already been planning to remove the PAL ramp from future external tanks, although the engineering needed to do that may not be finished until next fall. The next shuttle mission is tentatively slated for May, although NASA officials made it clear yesterday that there is no schedule pressure within the program to launch by then.
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