Agency May Attempt Repair Anyway To Protect Orbiter
Engineers at NASA determined late
Monday evening launch damage to the shuttle Endeavour poses no
threat to crew safety or mission operations, and repairs are not
necessary to ensure the orbiter will survive reentry into the
NASA is discussing options for possible repair work, however, to
prevent possible heat-related structural damage that would
complicate the ground turnaround for Endeavour's next flight.
Engineers will announce their decision on that mission Wednesday,
according to news reports.
"If we have to [[make repairs], I feel fully confident that we
could execute it with a minimum impact to the mission," shuttle
mission manager John Shannon told the Melbourne Herald Sun.
As ANN reported Monday,
possible repair options include bolting a repair plate over the
damage, or filling the gouge with a heat-resistant liquid sealant,
or a thicker caulking compound. Only the latter method has ever
been tested in orbit.
Endeavour suffered a gouge to its heat shield (below) during
launch last week, when a chunk of insulating foam from the
shuttle's external fuel tank struck two tiles near the shuttle's
right maingear door.
Meanwhile, with the use of Canadian-built robotic arms, STS-118
astronauts installed a new stowage platform Tuesday on the exterior
of the International Space Station.
External stowage platform-3 (ESP-3) is the third of its kind to
be installed on the station. The first two, however, were attached
during spacewalks on previous missions. The stowage platforms are
used to hold spacewalk tools and spare equipment.
Mission Specialists Tracy Caldwell and Barbara Morgan used Space
Shuttle Endeavour’s robot arm to lift ESP-3 out of the
payload bay and to hand it off to the station arm. STS-118 Pilot
Charles Hobaugh and Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clay Anderson
used the station arm to attach the platform to the station’s
Port 3 truss segment.
Inside the shuttle/station complex, cargo transfers between the
two spacecraft continue. Also on tap for Tuesday were preparations
for STS-118’s third spacewalk, scheduled for Wednesday.
The crew began the day at 0607 EDT, with a wakeup call wishing
Caldwell happy birthday. Not a bad way to celebrate growing a year