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October 28, 1996

Debbie Rahn/Ed Campion
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
(Phone: 202/358-1778)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: (281)/483-5111)

Lisa Malone
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
(Phone: 407/867-2468)

Release: N96-72

NOTE TO EDITORS:

NASA Managers Defer Setting STS-80 Launch Date Pending Resolution of RSRM Nozzle Issue

At the conclusion of today's STS-80 Flight Readiness Review (FRR) meeting, NASA managers decided to conduct a follow-up FRR on November 4 to review additional analysis that is being conducted on one Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM) nozzle erosion. A launch date will be set at this review.

Meanwhile, the Kennedy Space Center launch team continues to prepare Columbia for an option to launch as early as November 8, pending further review of the nozzle analysis.

The analysis being conducted concerns the insulation material located in the nozzle of the RSRM. During STS-79 post-flight inspection, technicians found the insulation in the nozzle throat area had experienced greater than normal erosion in the right-hand RSRM nozzle. Although the erosion was more than usual, it presented no safety of flight issue with the STS-79 launch.

"Our decision to defer setting a launch date today allows the team time to insure the RSRM nozzles are safe to fly," said Space Shuttle Program Manager Tommy Holloway. "We will take whatever time is necessary to fully understand the phenomenon seen on the STS-79 boosters before we proceed with the STS-80 launch."

The STS-80 mission is NASA's final Shuttle flight scheduled for 1996. During the planned 16-day mission, Columbia's astronauts will deploy and retrieve two science satellites and two of the astronauts will conduct a pair of space walks to fine-tune techniques which will be used during the assembly of the International Space Station.

 

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