More Potential Space Shuttle Problems

NASA Scrambling to Determine Whether Drooping Material on Discovery’s Belly Poses Danger – Marica Dunn – Associated Press

A couple of short strips of material dangling from Discovery’s belly had NASA scrambling Sunday to determine whether the protrusions might endanger the shuttle during next week’s descent and whether the astronauts might need to attempt a repair.

The potential trouble has nothing to do with foam or other launch debris – for a change – but rather the accidental slippage of material used to fill the thin gaps between thermal tiles.

Outside of the possibility of real risk to the Astronauts, the real problem is that we are taking measurements and assessments now that were never taken, so we don’t know what really is a potential problem and what was there all along.

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Rodney Dill
About Rodney Dill
Rodney is an IT Implementation Consultant in the Motor City and working within the Automotive Industry. He contributed to OTB from November 2004 until retiring in July 2017, hosting some 1200 OTB Caption Contests.


  1. Michael says:


    This is a media thing. The threat of that “drooping material” is almost nothing. It’s the media, which obviously has nothing interesting to talk about.

    This “drooping material” is quite common, actually.

  2. Depth Charge says:

    Of course, many things on this web-site are over bloated. Look at the remark regarding Iraqi money. Sounds like the Dinar is worthless because the government can’t control inflation.

    Fortunately though, the shuttle’s extrusion problem made it into my local paper (probably the NY Times as well) whereas the Iraqi money situation didn’t.

    From what I understand, the extrusions are the result of shims between the heat tiles that have been vibrated out of their sockets during launch. This has happened numerous times in the past and can disrupt the “boundary layer” of gas surrounding the tiles as the shuttle returns to earth. The boundary layer separates the ceramics from the 10,000 degree plasma blast during re-entry through a slipstream effect. In the past such occurrences have caused damage, but crew endangerment has never been a serious concern regarding the issue.