Feeds

Two Shuttles hit by fuel tank problems

Is it supposed to make that rattling noise?

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.