Shuttle Engineers to Fit Discovery to New External Tank

Independent Safety Group Tackles Launch Waivers for Discovery's Flight
Suspended from an overhead crane in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the orbiter Discovery is lowered toward the Solid Rocket Booster and External Tank (seen below) already stacked on the top of the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP). (Image credit: NASA/KSC.)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -Kennedy Space Center workers are preparing this morning to outfit shuttleDiscovery with a new fuel tank.

Discovery is resting this morning in the center aisle of the Vehicle AssemblyBuilding, awaiting a lift from a monstrous overhead crane.

Crane workers will hoist Discovery into position to mount the spaceship to anew stack of external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

The operation is expected to take most of the day once it begins. Discoveryremains scheduled to return to the launch pad in a week for a launch no earlierthan July 13.

Discovery was brought back to the VAB to be mounted to a new tank, which hasbeen modified to solve issues related to ice debris and a problematic fuelvalve.

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John Kelly is the director of data journalism for ABC-owned TV stations at Walt Disney Television. An investigative reporter and data journalist, John covered space exploration, NASA and aerospace as a reporter for Florida Today for 11 years, four of those on the Space Reporter beat. John earned a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky and wrote for the Shelbyville News and Associated Press before joining Florida Today's space team. In 2013, John joined the data investigation team at USA Today and became director of data journalism there in 2018 before joining Disney in 2019. John is a two-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow award in 2020 and 2021, won a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2020 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2017. You can follow John on Twitter.