The US National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) said that space shuttle Discovery’s planned early February launch would not be postponed further, despite the emergence of four more cracks on the space shuttle's external fuel tank.
NASA officials have already ordered additional repairs to get the space shuttle ready for scheduled flight on 3rd of February. It will be Discovery’s final flight as the US is going to put an end to its 30-year-old shuttle program. Discovery’s final flight has already been postponed several times. Originally, it was scheduled to launch on 5th of November, but was delayed after a hydrogen fuel leak.
The newest cracks were earlier this week by NASA technicians in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida-based Kennedy Space Center. The cracks were found on the top ends of three stringers- long U-shaped aluminum ribs which reinforce a segment of the fuel tank's outer shell.
Discovery will retire after its final flight to the International Space Station (ISS) which will carry seven astronauts, supplies, and a humanoid robot helper for the ISS crew. After that Russia will shoulder the responsibility for carrying astronauts to the ISS.