Image Scans of Discovery’s External Tank Almost Complete


Wed, 29 Dec 2010 04:54:31 PM GMT

Technicians in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are making such good progress with X-ray type image scans of space shuttle Discovery’s external fuel tank that they expect to finish the job today, a day ahead of schedule.

The team has been using a refined method of gathering the computed radiography scans of all 108 support beams, called stringers, on the outside of the external tank’s intertank section. The method has provided overlapping images, which has lowered the need to have scans retaken.

Engineers at other NASA locations are analyzing the new image scans, which began Sunday. The new data, along with previous testing and analysis, will help engineers and managers determine what caused small cracks on the tops of two stringers during Discovery’s launch countdown on Nov. 5.

Space Shuttle Program managers still are scheduled to decide Thursday afternoon whether testing and analysis indicate modifications are needed on some of the stringers. If required, modifications would begin next Monday (Jan. 3).

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