Repair work to space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank begins in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Technicians will modify 32 support beams, called stringers, on the tank's intertank region by fitting pieces of metal, called radius blocks, over the stringers' edges where they attach to the thrust panel area. The thrust panel is where the tank meets the two solid rocket boosters and sees the most stress during the flight into orbit. After the modifications and additional scans of the stringers are complete, foam insulation will be re-applied.
Discovery's next launch opportunity to the International Space Station on the STS-133 mission is no earlier than Feb. 3, 2011. For more information on STS-133, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller