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NASA Must Meet Three Requirments Before Shuttle Flight

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Washington (AFP) Jun 09, 2005
The US space agency still has to meet three conditions before manned shuttle flights can resume as planned in July, according to a group of experts tasked with evaluating the shuttle's readiness.

"We had closed unconditionally seven of our assessments ... and today we have closed an additional five," said Richard Covey, a former astronaut and one of two co-chairmen of The Return to Flight Task Group.

"We have work left to do, but we understand what's requiered for us to be able to complete that work," he added.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has to meet 15 requirement to make possible the resumption of shuttle flights interrupted by the February 2003 crush of space shuttle Columbia.

"We are getting closer and our activity can be completed by the end of June," Covey pointed out.

The most important task facing NASA is to make sure that pieces of ice that fly off the shuttle's oxygen-filled external tank do not damage the spacecraft.

The tank has now been modified and equipped with a heating system to prevent that from happening.

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