Thu, Aug 04, 2005
NASA To Decide On Yet Another Shuttle Repair Mission
NASA to Discovery Astronauts Stephen Robinson and Soichi
Noguchi: Don't hang up your spacesuits just yet. The shuttle's EVA
team may have yet another task to perform before the orbiter
returns to Earth on Monday.
One day after Robinson rode the shuttle's 58-foot long robotic
arm beneath the shuttle to repair two areas where the material that
fills gaps between thermal tiles was dangling loose, he and his
Japanese counterpart may be ordered back outside to examine and
perhaps repair damage to the thermal blanket just below the
commander's window on the flight deck.
NASA officials said the blanket does not pose a danger to
overheating. However, engineers were performing tests overnight to
determine the likelihood of the blanket coming off during descent,
thus becoming a source of debris.
In a Wednesday afternoon briefing, Space Shuttle Deputy Program
Manager Wayne Hale said a team of aerodynamic engineers is working
around the clock to perform several tests with three sample
The team will try to replicate the damage and simulate the
Shuttle's descent in a wind tunnel to learn how the insulating
material might react. The aerodynamics team seeks to understand
when, if at all, the blanket could tear away and what size piece or
pieces could come off.
Hale said, meanwhile, the EVA team is developing a plan for a
potential additional spacewalk to repair the thermal blanket.
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