July 27, 2005

Shuttle fleet grounded; foam still a problem

NASA released a tersely-worded statement early this evening that indicated that the Space Shuttle fleet was being grounded until further notice. This after foam was observed falling from the shuttle's external tank during yesterday's launch.

While the US space agency said the foam did not damage the shuttle on Tuesday's launch, a spokesman said that future flights are on hold until the problem is corrected.

"Until we're ready we won't fly again," said Bill Parsons, space shuttle program manager.

While thus far, no major damage has been detected to Discovery, a decision regarding potential repairs to the orbiter will be made later this week.

If Discovery cannot be reliably repaired, rescue options would include sending up Atlantis with plenty of spare parts, or sending the Discovery crew back two or three at a time in Soyuz capsules.

This news, of course, scratches the September scheduled relaunch of Atlantis.

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