Mon, Jul 10, 2006
No Significant Heat Shield Problems Seen
Is it safe to come home? That's the
question aboard the shuttle Discovery... now docked at the
International Space Station -- and at this point... the answer
appears to be "yes."
In an email sent to the seven-member Discovery crew on Sunday,
NASA managers say the space plane appears not to have sustained any
major launch damage... and should be just fine for re-entry.
That comes in spite of a low-hanging gap-filler on the underside
of Discovery's left wing. NASA is reportedly leaning against asking
the astronauts to attempt to remove it, however, during a spacewalk
planned for Wednesday.
In fact... one program manager in Houston calls it the cleanest
orbiter he's ever seen.
That's the kind of news that warms the hearts of NASA shuttle
workers... who've been involved in a $1.3 billion safety
improvement effort since the 2003 destruction of Columbia as it was
re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.
It is good news overall for the shuttle program, which has been
on the bubble with this flight. Had there been major problems... a
lot of analysts say the entire shuttle program's future would have
hung in the balance.
Go, Discovery... Go!
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