Friday, April 29, 2005

DELAY

The US space agency (Nasa) has announced that the launch of its space shuttle Discovery will now not take place until July.

The two-month delay occurred because managers decided the spaceship's fuel tank, which triggered the 2003 Columbia disaster, is not quite ready to fly. Nasa first set the launch date for 15 May, but it has been pushed back twice.

The shuttle fleet has been grounded since the 2003 accident, which killed seven astronauts.
Driving Nasa's decision to postpone the flight to July - the next possible launch period - were lingering concerns about accumulations of ice forming on the outside of the external tank. The fear is the ice could come away as the orbiter blasted off the launch pad and strike delicate parts of the ship's thermal shield.

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