CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA fueled a space shuttle for the first time in more than two years yesterday, conducting a critical prelaunch test of Discovery's redesigned external tank.
The 154-foot tank underwent major design changes after the Columbia disaster, which was caused by a chunk of insulating foam that fell off the tank during liftoff and gashed the shuttle's wing.
None of the astronauts was aboard Discovery for the daylong tanking test. But the entire launch team was on hand in the firing room, and eight inspectors were at the pad to watch for any ice or frost on the tank.
Discovery is scheduled to blast off no earlier than May 15 on a flight to the International Space Station.