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No Launch Delay After Train With Shuttle Booster Derails In US

In the Vehicle Assembly Building, a technician carefully sands foam repairs on Atlantis' external tank. In late February, Atlantis received hail damage during a severe thunderstorm that caused visible divots in the giant tank's foam insulation. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
by Staff Writers
Washington (RIA Novosti) May 03, 2007
An accident in which a freight train carrying segments of the space shuttle's solid rocket boosters ran off the tracks in Alabama will not cause any delays in shuttle launches, U.S. space officials said. The train derailed after a recently repaired bridge collapsed over boggy ground Wednesday, NASA spokeswoman Katherine Trinidad said, adding that six people aboard were reported injured, one in critical condition.

She said eight booster segments were on the train. One booster overturned, along with two locomotives and a car carrying six attendants, who were injured.

NASA said the segments were not slated for use during the next shuttle flight, the liftoff of Atlantis June 8, but for missions in October and December.

It said NASA's solid rocket boosters and their parts are freely interchangeable.

The space agency said the derailment was in a remote stretch of track near Myrtlewood, about 110 miles southwest of Birmingham.

NASA said earlier it is planning to launch four space shuttles before the end of the year.

NASA managers had been pondering whether to finish repairing a tank and use it for Atlantis' mission or replace it with another tank. But they said they were pleased with the progress of repairs that have been made.

They said Atlantis would return to the launch pad May 6, after its hail-damaged fuel tank has been repaired, but that the first launch will not be made until June 8.

Atlantis was to have lifted off in March, but the launch was put on hold after golf ball-sized hail caused thousands of dings on the fuel tank's foam insulation.

The fuel tank has about 2,500 dings, 1,600 of which may need to be filled in with new foam.

related report
NASA Supports Train-Derailment Recovery in Alabama
Washington DC (SPX) May 03 - Officials from NASA and ATK Launch Systems, Brigham City, Utah, are assisting the Federal Railroad Administration during its investigation of a train derailment Wednesday morning near Pennington, Ala. The train was carrying space shuttle reusable solid rocket motor segments from the ATK Launch Systems manufacturing site in Brigham City to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

"Several members of the NASA family were injured in this serious accident. Today our prayers are for those who have been injured and their families. Our employees work in hazardous jobs every day, and it is our goal to keep them safe," said NASA's Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale.

The special train carrying only solid rocket motor segments and a passenger car to monitor their transportation was crossing a bridge or a trestle, which collapsed under the locomotives. Six people were injured when the two locomotives and the passenger car dropped about 10 feet and turned on their sides.

One of the cars carrying a solid rocket motor segment is also on its side. The remaining cars containing seven solid rocket motor segments and two aft exit cone segments are upright.

The hardware was intended for use on shuttle Discovery's STS-120 mission in October and shuttle Atlantis's STS-122 mission in December. These segments are interchangeable, and ATK Launch Systems has replacement units that could be used for the shuttle flights, if necessary.

Each segment weighs approximately 300,000 lbs. and is protected by a white or yellow colored fiberglass cover during shipment. The condition of the rocket motor segments will be assessed as soon as teams conduct a full inspection. Solid Rocket Motor segments have been transported across country by rail for more than 26 years with an excellent record of safe transportation. For information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit:

Source: RIA Novosti

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New Shuttle Launch Dates Announced
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 18, 2007
NASA has announced a revised launch schedule for the upcoming Space Shuttle missions. The revised schedule follows a review of repairs to the insulation on the Shuttle's external fuel tank, which was damaged during a sudden hail storm over NASA's Florida launch site in February.

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