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ExoLance
NASA agrees to Oct. 23 shuttle launch date
Posted: Wed, Oct 17, 2007, 7:24 AM ET (1124 GMT)
STS-120: logo (NASA) NASA officials signed off late Tuesday on the planned October 23 launch of the space shuttle Discovery despite concerns about some of the leading-edge wing panels on the orbiter. The flight readiness review meeting Tuesday ended with officials satisfied that small cracks found in protective coating on several of the panels did not pose a safety risk to the orbiter. Previously, an independent safety office has recommended that, since the cause of the cracks had not been identified, the panels be replaced, a process that would have required rolling the shuttle back to the VAB and delay the launch by several weeks. Shuttle managers, though, concluded that the cracks posed an "acceptable risk" to the flight. Discovery is scheduled to launch on mission STS-120 at 11:38 am EDT (1538 GMT) Tuesday, October 23. The mission will deliver a new docking node to the International Space Station and also move a set of solar panels to its permanent position on the station's truss,
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