Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Discovery, a "GO" for launch

This is the 3rd time the space shuttle Discovery has been scheduled for launch. The NASA management has turned more conservative giving top priority to safety measures for the astronauts. However, they did find a pencil-sized crack in the foam insulation around the shuttle's fuel tank, but the engineers have confirmed that the structure is in good shape and ready to launch. NASA administrator Michael Griffin said, "I personally want every engineer to express the best opinion that they can give us". Since the Columbia tragedy, NASA has spent more than $1.2 billion in just ramping up its safety measures. As a side note, NASA has an annual budget of $16 billion, out which it spends $4 billion in launching the vehicles. The rest is spent on new technologies and newer vehicles.

But anyway, now, Discovery is good to go! The 7-member crew of Discovery were in all smiles as they suited up Tuesday morning. This is the first time a U.S space shuttle has attempted to lift off on the 4th of July. The scheduled launch time is 2:38 PM E.S.T, that is around 2 hours away from now. Keep watch, the launch is covered live on MSNBC.



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