HOUSTON, June 17 (UPI) -- A firm date has been set for the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, NASA announced Saturday.
The shuttle is scheduled to take off July 1 for a 12-day flight to the International Space Station, said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
"We had two full days of an intensive Flight Readiness Review," said Griffin. "It was spirited and one of the most open, yet non-adversarial meetings I've seen since returning to NASA."
Some engineers objected to the launch because of fears that foam insulation covering brackets on the external fuel tanks could cause a potentially catastrophic accident. They were overruled on the grounds that the risk is not that great.
Pieces of foam fell from the shuttle Columbia's fuel tank during its January 2003 launch, causing damage that led to the shuttle breaking apart during re-entry. The accident killed all seven astronauts aboard.
On the next shuttle flight in July 2005, more foam chunks fell from the shuttle's external fuel tank.
The mission, commanded by Steve Lindsey, will ferry Thomas Reiter, an astronaut with the European Space Agency, to the space station to join Russian and NASA crew members already there.