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Discovery Timeline

Events on Shuttle's Road Back to Space (AP)

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Tuesday, July 26, 2005, at Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/David F. Martin)

Here is a look at key developments in NASA's return to space:

Feb. 1, 2003: Shuttle Columbia breaks apart as it heads for a landing in Florida, killing all seven astronauts. NASA says it will appoint a panel to investigate the cause.

Feb. 2, 2003: NASA names retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr. to lead the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, an independent commission.

June 13, 2003: Return To Flight Task Group is appointed to oversee safety improvements.

Aug. 26, 2003: The accident investigation board releases its report on the shuttle accident, saying the cause was a large chunk of foam insulation that snapped off the external fuel tank at launch and knocked a hole in the left wing. A major contributing factor was a flawed safety culture that squelched warnings from lower-level employees. The board recommends 29 improvements, 15 to be completed before sending shuttles back into space.

Jan. 14, 2004: President Bush announces a new exploration policy for NASA, setting the shuttle's retirement for 2010 and a return to the moon by astronauts by 2020.

Dec. 13, 2004: NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announces he is resigning. He is the leading candidate for the chancellor's job at Louisiana State University, which he ends up getting.

April 13, 2005: Michael Griffin, head of the space department at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, is appointed NASA administrator.

April 29, 2005: NASA scraps plans for a shuttle flight in May because of concerns over ice buildup on the external fuel tank, and bumps the mission to July.

May 12, 2005: Griffin makes a case before a Senate subcommittee for speeding up development of the shuttle replacement, the "crew exploration vehicle." He wants the new spacecraft flying as soon as possible in the next decade, to avoid a gap once the shuttle is retired in 2010.

June 27, 2005: A safety advisory panel concludes that NASA failed to make three of 15 return-to-flight improvements recommended by the Columbia accident investigators.

June 30, 2005: NASA formally sets July 13 as the new launch date.

July 13, 2005: Launch for shuttle Discovery is delayed in the final stages of the countdown because of a fuel tank sensor problem.

July 26, 2005: Discovery is ready for launch.

Mission Details (Wikipedia)

Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center, launch pad 39-B 26-July-2005 @ 10:39 AM EDT (1439 UTC) with a 12-day mission. Landing planned for 07-August-2005 @ 5:46 AM EDT (0946 UTC). Orbit altitude 122 nautical miles (226 km). Orbit inclination 51.6 degrees.

Tags: sts-114
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