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Space Shuttle Rollout Delayed By Crack In Tank Foam

Associated Press | April 6, 2005

CAPE CANAVERAL -- The movement of space shuttle Discovery to a launch pad Wednesday was delayed after a last-minute inspection revealed a small crack in foam on the external fuel tank, adding to questions about whether it will be ready for a scheduled May launch.

Discovery's move to the launch pad has been delayed.
An analysis was sent to the tank's manufacturer in Louisiana while NASA officials decided whether to continue. The shuttles have been grounded since the Columbia disintegrated two years ago over Texas, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

A delay in the transport of Discovery to the launch pad could challenge NASA's goal of launching the shuttle in mid-May. NASA has set a launch window of between mid-May and early June.

The Columbia tragedy was blamed on a chunk of foam that flew off the tank and struck a wing on the shuttle.

NASA plans to conduct a test next week by filling the external fuel tank to make sure all systems are working. NASA hasn't done this for more than a decade.

"It doesn't sound like it's a major issue but because the foam is a sensitive issue we want to make sure we're in a safe and right configuration," said Jessica Rye, a spokeswoman at the Kennedy Space Center.

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