An improved Space Shuttle External Tank is nearly ready for its
role in returning the Orbiter to flight. NASA has scheduled a news
media briefing to address the improvements and rollout of External Tank
number 120 for shipping to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The telephone briefing is Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 11 a.m. EST. To
participate, reporters should call June Malone (256/544-0034) at NASA’s
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., by 4 p.m. EST Dec. 27.
News media who do not want to ask questions can listen to a live audio
stream of the briefing on the Web at:

Briefing participants:

– Sandy Coleman, External Tank Project Manager, Marshall Space Flight Center

– Ron Wetmore, vice president of the External Tank Project, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility

The tank will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its Return to
Flight mission (STS-114), targeted for launch next spring. The tank
will be shipped from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans
within the next two weeks. NASA has spent approximately 18 months
developing, testing and implementing safety enhancements for the tank
to meet the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s recommendation to
reduce the risk of falling debris hitting the Shuttle during launch.

The Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall Space Flight Center
manages the tank project. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. is the
primary contractor. For information about NASA’s Return to Flight on
the Internet, visit: