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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 30, 2004 3:33:55 GMT -6
Major Shuttle Repairs scrubbed on Future Shuttle Flights...
This Straight from the BBC...
Big shuttle repairs not possible
Many more cameras will be trained on the orbiter in future Space shuttle astronauts will fly next year without the ability to repair in orbit the type of damage that destroyed the Columbia vehicle in February 2003. Flying foam debris on launch punched a 15-25cm opening in the shuttle's left wing, resulting in catastrophic heating of the airframe on its return to Earth.
The US space agency says no method of repair tested so far could withstand the 1,600C temperature of re-entry. Nasa's answer to the problem is to stop debris damage occurring at lift-off.
To that end, the space shuttle fuel tanks have been redesigned. The agency believes they should no longer shed chunks of insulating foam of the size that fatally damaged Columbia.
Speaking on the one-year anniversary of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's (CAIB) report, shuttle programme manager Bill Parsons said Nasa was steadily but surely working towards a "return to flight" in March or April of 2005.
"We've made a lot of progress, but we've not been able to come up with an over-wrap in this timeframe that would allow us to fix a large hole," he told the Associated Press.
"Our expectation is that we'll fix the tank and there won't be anything like that we'll have to deal with."