Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale says Discovery's external fuel tanks have gone through extensive tests, including a thorough Debris Verification Review that seems to indicate the vehicle is safe to fly.
"We have gone through that review and we have found no show-stoppers. We believe we have made significant improvements since last year in the elimination of many of of the hazards from foam."
Hale says the external tanks will still shed foam, just not as much and in smaller pieces that won't damage the shuttle. Launch director Mike Leinbach says final preperations for the launch of STS-121 will begin soon.
"The crew will be here in about two weeks for their terminal countdown demonstration test. That's where we get the crew here and get them into the orbitor. It's especially important for them to be here and go through the final preparations for launch. They get suited-up and get into the vehicle."
The 7-person crew will test new safety procedures and perform maintenance on the Internatinal Space Station. The mission is scheduled for 13 days.