Space shuttle launch pad, 21st April 2005

Space shuttle launch pad, 21st April 2005

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Credit: DIGITAL GLOBE, EURIMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Space shuttle launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, on 21st April 2005. This was during preparations for shuttle mission STS-114, the Return to Flight. This was to be the first shuttle mission since the loss of Columbia on 1st February 2003. At this date, the launch was planned for late May or early June, but the discovery of ice build-up on the external fuel tank (orange, on the gantry at centre) led to the launch being cancelled. It eventually launched on 26th July. However, close scrutiny of the launch showed that insulating foam was lost from the fuel tank during launch, the same problem that led to the loss of Columbia, and the shuttle fleet was grounded indefinitely. Photographed by the Quickbird satellite.

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