The Space Shuttle's return to flight moved a step closer on 6 April with the roll-out of the STS 114 Discovery stack to launch complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. A small "hairline" crack on some external tank foam is not expected to delay the launch.

"It's great to see Discovery rolling out to the launch pad. We know we're getting close," says STS 114 commander Eileen Collins. Space Shuttle programme manager Bill Parsons says there is a 50% chance of a launch on 15 May. The first launch window ends on 6 June.

The Stafford-Covey Re­turn to Flight Task Force cannot officially block the launch, but if it does not clear the modifications recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, NASA will be under pressure not to proceed. Stafford-Covey reportedly be­lieves NASA is not ready for launch, as none of the hard recommendations have been met to the letter and not enough time has been allowed to determine flight readiness.



Source: Flight International