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Melissa Mathews
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1272)

Jessica Rye
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)

Sept. 17, 2004
RELEASE : S04-031
Space Shuttle Processing Status Report: S04-031
*Note: Status report S04-030 was omitted due to Hurricane Frances.

The Space Shuttle fleet is housed and processed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. The order Space Shuttles are named in this report does not necessarily reflect the chronological order of future missions.

None of NASA's three Space Shuttle orbiters, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, along with the Shuttle launch pads, all critical flight hardware for the orbiters and the International Space Station, sustained damage during Hurricane Frances.

On Monday, workers began taking the orbiters out of a hurricane preparedness status and returning to regular processing activities. Discovery was powered up on Tuesday and the landing gear lowered. The payload bay doors were closed during hurricane preparations, and they will remain that way so technicians can perform an optics check of the Heads Up Display, a standard check performed during processing activities. The display provides visual alignment cues to Space Shuttle commanders and pilots during approach and landing. The payload bay doors are scheduled to open Tuesday.

Atlantis and Endeavour also returned to pre-hurricane processing activities.

Space Shuttle facilities including the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Thermal Protection System Facility and the Processing Control Center received significant damage. The KSC Recovery Team continues to perform assessments of the damage and create recovery plans to ensure Space Shuttle facilities are safe and fully operational as quickly as possible.

Processing activities associated with orbiter Thermal Protection System (TPS) tiles are scheduled to begin Monday. Following the move of the second floor TPS blanket area to a hangar at the Shuttle Landing Facility (offered by the Florida Space Authority), TPS blanket production could begin as early as Sept. 27.

Managers at KSC are watching Hurricane Jeanne's track to determine what steps, if any, will be taken to prepare for the storm. A decision will be made Saturday to determine whether the Center will enter Hurricane Condition IV (50 knot winds expected within 72 hours). If KSC enters Hurricane Condition III (50 knot winds expected within 48 hours), the orbiters will be prepared to ensure their safe ride-out of the storm.
Previous Space Shuttle processing status reports are available on the Internet at:

For information about NASA's Return to Flight efforts on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:


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