Second Life for Shuttles

United Space Alliance has proposed the Commercial Space Transportation Service, which would keep two orbiters in the space shuttle fleet, Atlantis and Endeavour active and flying two missions each year from 2013 through 2017 while the United States gets a new generation of manned launch vehicles ready. NASA has not officially commented on the USA plan and is publicly stating that the current plans to send the three orbiters to museums.

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Penultimate Shuttle Launch Delayed

The second-to-last scheduled space shuttle launch has been delayed again. Originally scheduled for November 5, NASA now says the last flight of Discovery will occur no earlier than February 3. The Discovery launch has been plagued with fuel tank issues and cracks appearing in the stringers. The delay in Discovery‘s mission also pushes back the date of the final launch of the program, for Endeavour to April 1.

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Shuttle Tanks Cracked

Following a delay in the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery, NASA has discovered two nine-inch long cracks in the shuttle’s external fuel tank. Earlier, a twenty-inch crack had been discovered. The new cracks appeared on the fuel tank’s stringers, vertical, composite aluminum ribs on the tank’s exterior. The launch will not take place until sometime after November 30, with the new cracks possibly delaying the launch even more.

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Obituary: William Lenoir

Astronaut William B. Lenoir (b. 1939) died on August 28. Lenoir joined the Astronaut Corps as part of Group 6 in 1967 as a scientist-astronaut. He flew his only mission in November 1982 as a mission specialist aboard Columbia flight STS-5, which was considered the first operational flight of the shuttle. Lenoir left NASA in 1984 after declining a space on a 1985 shuttle launch. He went on to work for Booz Allen Hamilton. He returned to NASA in 1989 as Associate Administrator for Space Flight and remained until 1992, when he again left for BAH, where he remained until his retirement in 2000.

Death in Shuttle Launch

A small free tail bat with a wounded wing was seen clinging to the external fuel tank of the space shuttle Discovery moments before launch. NASA officials believe the animal had a wounded wing and was resting while it healed. The bat would have been killed during the shuttle’s launch.

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