Feeds

Shuttle flights are gone 'til November

At the earliest

Security for virtualized datacentres

No new Shuttle missions will blast off until November at the earliest, NASA has said, as it scrubbed a flight scheduled to depart in late September this year.

The space agency is unwilling to risk new flights until it has nailed down the cause of the falling debris during the launch of the shuttle Discovery, the BBC reports.

NASA spent more than two-and-a-half years trying to solve the problem of foam falling from external fuel tanks, after the disastrous loss of Columbia in March 2003. Since then, the agency has spent more than a billion dollars on various safety improvements, and had thought that it had solved the problem of falling debris.

The chunk of foam that fell from Discovery was not much smaller than the piece that fatally wounded Columbia. Fortunately, it did not hit the shuttle as it fell.

NASA says it cannot see an immediate or obvious solution to the problem. "It's an extremely difficult engineering problem to solve," NASA investigator Bill Gerstenmaier said, in a media teleconference.

"Frankly, even the next time we fly the tank, I would expect to see a little bit of foam loss somewhere," he added.

The next shuttle scheduled to launch was Atlantis, which had been pencilled in for a 22 September lift-off. Its mission would have been similar to Discovery's: to test new in-orbit inspection and repair systems, and to ferry equipment to the International Space Station.

Get the latest from NASA about the Return to Flight project here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.