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Transcript: STS-121 External Tank Status
07.04.06
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WAYNE HALE: Well, I just spent about an hour with the imagery team, going through what we've seen so far, and I, I came back with what I think is a really good report for you, which is, I think the tank performed very, very well, indeed.

Very pleased, as opposed to where we were last year. We saw nothing that gives us any kind of concern about the health of the crew or the vehicle, or any pause to think that we wouldn't be safe to fly the next tank.

You know, we put the tank under a microscope this time. We have lots and lots of data coming in and imagery coming in. As you know, we've been very concerned about foam coming off the tank. We've worked very hard to eliminate insofar as possible the major losses of foam off the tank. The tank performed very well this time.

Watching the tank as it tumbles over that beautiful blue ocean and clouds below -- I mean, that's a work of art to many of us. So I think that was great.

You just saw some of the crew handheld video that's coming down. They showed a, a large piece of ice. You know, it's incredible to me, but I've seen it so I know it's true, that the space shuttle main engines that burn hydrogen and oxygen at 6,000 degrees on the inside can form frost on the outside because we circulate liquid hydrogen to cool the outside of the nozzle.

And we have seen this ice come off several times in previous flights. The first time I saw it, and, and we saw it again most recently on the last flight, last July, you look at those photographs, you would think that's got to be fabric. That's what the crew clearly thought. It is clearly ice. If you watch that video a little while, you can see it breaking up as it sublimated into water vapor. So that is not an issue.

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