Leaked Images of Discovery Tank Cracks Confirmed

Yesterday we published leaked images of Space Shuttle Discovery's external tank cracks. Today, NASA has confirmed the news:

This morning during removal of external fuel tank foam insulation, which cracked during draining operations following the shuttle Discovery's launch scrub on Nov. 5., technicians identified two cracks on a section of the tank's metal exterior. They were found on the stringer, which is the composite aluminum ring located on the top of the tank's intertank area. The cracks are approximately 9 inches long. Engineers are reviewing images of the cracks to determine the best possible repair method, which would be done at Launch Pad 39A.

Crews have repaired similar cracks during external tank production by removing the cracked aluminum and replacing it with a "doubler," which is a twice-as-thick stringer section before replacing the foam insulation.

Exact schedules and repair options still are being evaluated.

The STS-133 mission seems cursed.

Watch the original leaked thermal images here. [NASA]