NASA still doesn't get it. After spending a billion dollars on fuel tanks for the space shuttle it still doesn't accept that the foam that insulates the tank must not be permitted to peel away during lift off. Light as it is, the foam travels at such high velocities that it causes damage as if it were an artillery shell. In spite of the Columbia disaster that took seven lives and a stand down of a year for modifications to the tank, foam still peels off at every launch, does damage to the shuttle and risks the crew on re-entry,” said Wolk.
Now, the damage is very severe and try as it can to put a happy face on it, the damage to the shuttle's thermal tiles goes right to the structure and the risk to the astronauts is serious. The debate going on publicly at NASA is whether to have a spacewalk to repair the damaged tile. JUST DO IT!!!
It's one thing to let bad engineering create a risk of death time after time, it is another to fail to exhaust every possible remedy before the searing heat and turbulence of re-entry. The astronauts should be given every opportunity to survive but the people at NASA responsible for this continuing debacle need to go.
August 14, 2007