Outwardly, Morton Thiokol and NASA officials are pillars of confidence when discussing the upcoming third full-scale test of the redesigned space shuttle booster rocket.
Still, don't be too surprised by a few quick prayers and plenty of crossed fingers in the final moments before the critical juncture Wednesday afternoon the first since a similar firing two days before Christmas revealed a flawed nozzle assembly component.The test is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Morton Thiokol's remote test facility, 25 miles west of Brigham City. The 126-foot-long rocket, containing 1.1 million pounds of propellant, will be fired horizontally for 120 seconds.
Although December's static test was originally hailed a success by both Morton Thiokol and NASA, closer examination revealed the 2-inch-thick outer boot ring of the booster's nozzle had crumbled, forcing several months delay of the testing schedule.
The test Wednesday will incorporate a boot ring design tested successfully during another full-scale test firing last August.
Wednesday's test is the first of three final tests required by NASA before the space shuttle Discovery can fly in August. The others are scheduled for June 3 and July 6.