NASA said it will transport a new shuttle external fuel tank to
the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week... just in case
engineers decide it best to swap out the hail-damaged tank now
attached to the shuttle Atlantis.
UPI reports NASA will make the decision to either use the new
tank, or the one now under repair for hail damage, as soon as early
next week. As Aero-News reported, the
external tank was hardest hit by a late-February hailstorm centered
over Kennedy Space Center.
The focus is currently on repairs to the liquid oxygen section.
Work continues to assess and repair the damaged tank, with foam
repairs to its liquid hydrogen area -- located at the bottom of the
external tank -- complete.
According to NASA, during the STS-117's 11-day mission, the
six-member crew will install a new truss segment, retract a set of
solar arrays and unfold a new set on the starboard side of the
International Space Station.
Currently, the crew is training at the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration's Johnson Space Center in Houston while
awaiting a launch date.