Feeds

Two Shuttles hit by fuel tank problems

Is it supposed to make that rattling noise?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour, the next two planned to fly, may have technical problems with their external fuel tanks. Both spacecraft are due to roll out to launch pads at the Kennedy Space Centre.

NASA has just rescheduled roll-out of Atlantis to Kennedy's Launch Complex 39A, moving the event back from August 30th to September 2nd. The shuttle is scheduled to launch on October 8th on the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Meanwhile Endeavour will initially be positioned at pad 39B, ready to act as rescue craft in the event of a problem during the Hubble mission. (The Atlantis astronauts at the telescope won't be able to take refuge in the International Space Station; hence the desire for a ready backup shuttle.)

Assuming that all goes well on the Hubble visit, Endeavour will lift off on November 10 to deliver a logistics module to the space station.

According to an article in Aerospace Daily & Defence Report, however, both shuttles have had issues with their recently-fitted external fuel tanks. A bolt used to secure Atlantis's tank to handling gear as it was mated with the orbiter was apparently difficult to extract, raising concerns about damage to the bolt hole.

Meanwhile, as Endeavour's tank was being raised to the vertical, it seems that several people nearby heard something rattling about inside it. Anything loose inside the tank could be sucked into the orbiter's engines during boost, probably causing a catastrophic explosion. Aerospace Daily & Defence Report says that NASA technicians are X-raying the tank to see what, if anything, is in there - and whether or not it's of a size that the shuttle's filter systems could cope with.

The factory where the huge orange external tanks are made, at Michoud near New Orleans, is scheduled to close down starting from this autumn, with massive loss of jobs. Under current NASA plans the Shuttle fleet is due to retire from 2010, and will need no further tanks after this year. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.