Trouble On The Shuttle

Tonight, AP reports:

A close-up laser inspection by Endeavour’s astronauts Sunday revealed that a 3 1/2-inch-long gouge penetrates all the way through the thermal shielding on the shuttle’s belly, and had NASA urgently calculating whether risky spacewalk repairs are needed.

A chunk of insulating foam smacked the shuttle at liftoff last week in an unbelievably unlucky ricochet off the fuel tank and carved out the gouge.

This is a big deal. The area where this gouge is located heats to over 2,000&#176 on reentry. The thermal tiles are the only thing that keeps the shuttle from frying on its way back to Earth!

I, for one, have lost my taste for the danger, without equal reward, the shuttle brings.

Whether this becomes a big deal in the media or not… it’s a big deal to the folks on Endeavour. Their lives are in peril.

5 thoughts on “Trouble On The Shuttle”

  1. We saw this last night on World News just before our 5:30pm newscast. (Yes.. For some reason we run World News @ 5 and our news @ 5:30 on Sunday evenings)

    The other weekend director and I both agree the shuttles need to be retired. We go though this things falling from / falling into the shuttle every time they launch these things.

    I also commented to our graphics guy that it seems that we can’t send a teacher in space with-out putting her in harm’s way.


  2. When did NASA stop being cutting-edge? They run the same gameplan every time, and every time scratch their heads when they experience the same outcome. That, to me, is the height of stupidity. Putting lives in danger notwithstanding, this program needs to be mothballed in favor of something that has some real scientific value.

  3. I think you’re right Geoff. I think we have more pressing things on Earth that we could spend this money on.

    It really does make you wonder what happened to NASA and why they keep having these tile problems. Maybe they need to go back and examine what they might be doing different from previous launches.

    Anyone think we could see the first rescue in space?

  4. I’ve always been a big fan of the manned space program. But when we get to the point where a significant portion of each shuttle mission is dedicated to making sure that the spacecraft is safe enough to return its crew to Earth, it’s time to hang it up.

    As for returning to the moon and exploring Mars any time in the near future, it’s not going to happen, for a very simple reason: we ain’t got the money, and we’re rapidly approaching the point where we either stop borrowing beyond our means or face the consequences.

  5. My question is why could we not build the shuttle out of layers of laminated super-alloys with an insulator like the tile material sandwiched in the laminate. The government’s Sandia National Labs already have developed these alloys [as well as many other companies]. We already use them on earth for many things including sensitive computer parts. They resist heat, damage from flying debris, and are lightweight???

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