November 10th, 2010
10:40 PM ET

NASA to repair cracks on shuttle's external tank

A technician examines the area of the external tank where foam was removed Wednesday.

Engineers will need to repair two newly discovered cracks on part of Space Shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank before the next launch attempt at Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA said Wednesday.

The roughly 9-inch-long cracks were found on the tank's exterior stringers Wednesday, days after a 20-inch crack formed in the tank's foam insulation as workers were draining the tank following Friday's scrubbed launch attempt. Technicians found the cracks on the stringers as they were removing the insulation, NASA said.

Stringers are vertical, composite aluminum ribs on the tank's exterior.

Engineers were reviewing pictures of the stringer's cracks to determine how to repair them. After the cracks are repaired, workers will reapply foam to the tank. No repair schedule was announced.

NASA previously said the next launch attempt would happen no sooner than November 30. It's not clear whether the repairs will again push back the launch, which was scrubbed several times last week because of bad weather, gas leaks and electrical glitches.

The voyage is expected to be the last for Discovery as NASA prepares to retire the shuttle fleet.

Discovery's six crew members are scheduled to deliver a pressured logistics module to the International Space Station. The module will give the station more storage space.

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Filed under: Shuttle • Space
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. jim armstrong

    Only a few more shuttle missions, unless there is an emergency situation. Now we will go to the russians who have a long term way to get to the ISS. If they get out of the business, the ISS crew will have to eventually abandon the ISS. The world's long term space station mission(s) will end and it will eventually have a decaying orbit that sends it spinning into the atmosphere. If there is a God, any God, it will land in tehran during a republican guard rally, or in mecca/medina, take your pick.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. stevelb1

    I know, they can use the same stuff I used on my leaking basement wall. Hydrolic cement and Drylock. Worked like a charm. They can get it all for about $100 at the Home Depot. Good luck.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Marc

    If I were a member of the crew, I think I'd call in sick on launch day.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. cesar

    Another blocked post by CNN.

    November 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
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