News Update: Crack that Delayed ‘Discovery’ Space Shuttle Diagnosed

ShuttleCrackThermal (1) This terahertz image shows the 50 centimetre crack in the foam insulation of the space shuttle's fuel tank that appeared on Friday as the tank was being drained of liquid hydrogen after a fuel leak prevented the shuttle from launching.

CBS News has reported that after the cracked foam was removed on Tuesday night, cracks were found in an underlying structure called a stringer. Similar cracks were found on an external tank set to be used by the shuttle Atlantis in 2011.

The crack(s) "may be related to the use of lightweight materials in the latest generation of tanks. The crack in Atlantis' tank was repaired and engineers likely will follow a similar approach with Discovery's tank, possibly installing so-called doublers to reinforce the damaged stringer or a replacement section. Assuming management clearance to proceed and no other problems, fresh foam will be sprayed on, cured and sanded to match the surrounding insulation," according to William Harwood of CBS News.

The STS-133 could launch as soon as 30 November to deliver supplies and extra storage capacity to the International Space Station



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