The Nation

NASA engineers have uncovered new problems in space shuttle hardware that could further delay the shuttle's next flight, already postponed until at least August, sources told the Washington Post. The new problems--apparently the result of flaws in the manufacturing process rather than in the design--are cracks in welds on two out of six aft skirts and "mistracking" in a weld in the main engine. The aft skirt is the cone-shaped section of the booster that partially covers the steering nozzle and provides rigid support for the shuttle as it sits on the launch pad. The previous target date of June 2 was scuttled when a segment of the shuttle's booster nozzle failed in a Dec. 23 test firing.

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