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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 12:59, February 19, 2005
NASA to launch space shuttle launch on May 15
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA has set May 15 for the first launch of space shuttle mission since the Columbia disaster two years ago, reports said Friday.

The first shuttle to return to space will be Discovery. Earlier, NASA said the launch window is May 12 through June 3.

NASA's space shuttle fleet has been grounded since the Columbia disaster in 2003. Inspectors believe that a piece of suitcase-sized insulation foam that fell off the external fuel tank damaged the shuttle's left wing on liftoff, leading to Columbia's mid-air disintegration on its re-entry, and the deaths of all seven astronauts on board.

The Columbia accident investigation board has put forward 15 major recommendations for NASA to return shuttle fleet to space. The expert panel overseeing NASA's work to resume launches reported Thursday NASA has satisfied eight of the recommendations.

The expert panel said it hopes that, by late March, it can decide whether NASA has complied with the remaining seven recommendations put forward by the Columbia accident investigationboard.

The recommendations NASA has yet to meet include enabling in-orbit inspection and repair of shuttles, preventing debris coming off the external fuel tank from hitting the shuttle on liftoff, and toughening the shuttle to better withstand damage.

Source: Xinhua

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