Feeds

NASA fuels up Discovery for tank-tests

One step closer to lift-off

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Space Shuttle Discovery is moving a step closer to returning to flight today. Its fuel tanks will be filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, so that engineers can evaluate the performance of the redesigned tanks under "cryo-load".

The shuttle is now sitting on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Centre, waiting for its launch window, opening on 15 May. The Discovery will be the first shuttle to fly since the loss of the Columbia, and all her crew, back in February 2003.

The shuttle has undergone an extensive redesign in the last two years to meet with stringent safety conditions for a return to flight. The fuel tanks' external insulation foam - a falling chunk of which was responsible for the damage to Columbia that led to its mid-air break-up - has been replaced with electric heaters. One part of the test will be to see how effective these electric heaters are at preventing ice from building up on the outside of the tanks.

The ground crews will also be monitoring the performance of the orbiter, solid rocket boosters and ground system while the tank is filled with the ultra-cold liquids. They will also take the opportunity to give the main propulsion system the once over, NASA said. The launch team will also be dropping in to inspect the hardware.

The whole shebang is slated to be broadcast on NASA TV from 05:30 EDT (New York Time). You can watch it on the web here. ®

Related stories

Cracked insulation delays shuttle roll-out
NASA gives thumbs up to new Shuttle missions
'Star Wars' vet appointed NASA head

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.