Editor's note: The PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) met yesterday, 15 December 2005. According to a source in attendance, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm the PRCB discussed the External Tank. The attendees took a break at 11:15 am. Wayne Hale said that after the break everyone would come back and "hit the schedule issue hard". The bottom line: the PAL ramps will be removed. Once the discussion was over Hale polled the attendees and there were no 'Nays'.
MAF hadtalked about a February 2006 ship date for the STS-119 External Tank to support a May 2006 launch. However, that date was based on business as usual. The "STS-119 complete" date is now 30 March 2006. That represents around a 2 month slip - one that is viewed by some as being 'success oriented'. At one point Hale commented, "We could get the tank out the door - but nobody would fly it."
The question of the second External Tank was still in flux withinputs required by Hale next week. At issue is the desire of investigators to continue investigatingET-120 (the one with the cracks) and keep digging to attempt to find root causes of those cracks.
Another group leans toward repairing the 'excavations' in the tank and then to fly it as it could be ready sooner than ET-118 which would take from January to June to prepare.
At one point, Hale said, "We've got to get this foam thing right.We won't get a third chance."
Hale asked about resources at one point, commenting that NASA has "a lot of smart people in the agency" and that he's had phone calls fromGlenn Research Center begging for work given that they've got thermal,aerodynamics, structures people -- ifHale needs that manpower.
Hale said that he'd have to take the No-PALramp recommendation to his superiors but that his direction, today, is to press on with removal. He also gave directionto the two ET groupsto come back next week with their stories to ET Project. Meanwhile. the official position onlaunchdates remains "Under Review".
Earlier PRCB updates:
PRCB Update: ET Folks Not Ready For Prime Time, 21 November 2005
PRCB: Shuttle Launch Dates Are Still TBD, 14 Nov 2005
Shuttle Scheduling Update, 4 Nov 2005
PRCB Tackles STS-121 Launch Date, 14 Oct 2005