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NASA: Space Shuttle Cracking Finally Understood

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Cape Canaveral, FL (AP) - NASA says it finally knows what
caused the cracking in space shuttle Discovery's fuel tank.

Discovery's final voyage has been on hold since November. If the
remaining repairs go well, the shuttle could fly to the space
station as early as Feb. 24.

Shuttle program manager John Shannon said Tuesday a combination
of inferior material and assembly issues is to blame. Potentially
dangerous cracks occurred in five aluminum alloy struts in the
center of the tank. Those have been patched. Technicians will
reinforce the dozens of remaining struts as a safety precaution.

NASA refused Tuesday to discuss the flight status of astronaut
Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He's supposed
to command an April shuttle flight.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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