NASA today delayed the first post-Columbia &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/379/12564_Clipper.html ' target=_blank>space shuttle flight after engineers identified problems involving the shuttle's exterior fuel tanks and connecting fuel lines. They fear ice could build up on the tanks before launch, resulting in a disaster like the breakup of the Columbia two years ago, which killed seven crew members, informs ABC News.
Wayne Hale, the head of the shuttle Discovery's mission management team, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that ice is not the only reason for the shuttle launch delay. The &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/02/21/2629.html ' target=_blank>shuttle Atlantis, which would serve as a rescue vehicle, is also not yet ready, Hale said.
Griffin and space shuttle officials said that the delay was needed to give engineers more time to address safety issues, notably the risk that ice could accumulate on a fuel tank and break off during the launch, which could damage the spacecraft.