Discovery debris may have struck wing

Jul 29, 2005

NASA scientists say a small piece of insulating foam that came off space shuttle Discovery during its Tuesday launch may have struck the orbiter's wing.

But National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineers said they don't believe the foam caused any damage, a NASA official said late Thursday.

Camera footage showed foam about 7 inches long and 2 inches wide separating from the spacecraft's external tank at an altitude of about 200,000 feet toward the wing, Deputy Program Manager Wayne Hale said.

Hale said sensors on the wing didn't detect any impact, but even if the foam did strike the wing, NASA calculations showed the impact would have had about a tenth of the energy necessary to cause damage.

An even larger piece of foam also fell off the tank, but NASA officials don't believe it struck the orbiter, CNN reported. The larger piece was similar to the piece of foam that damaged Columbia's wing in February 2003, eventually causing the shuttle to break up during re-entry killing all seven astronauts aboard.

NASA experts are expected to develop a "fly-home as-is recommendation or a repair recommendation, as required," Hale said.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Mysteries of space dust revealed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Columbia space tragedy, 10 years on

Jan 31, 2013

NASA on Friday will commemorate the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts a decade ago, a landmark incident that triggered the end of the shuttle mission.

Major moments in the US shuttle program

Jul 20, 2011

The US space shuttle is part cargo truck, part passenger bus, part airplane built for orbit, and has known soaring highs and devastating lows during its 30-year career.

Recommended for you

Mysteries of space dust revealed

Aug 29, 2014

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks open a door to studying the origins of the ...

A guide to the 2014 Neptune opposition season

Aug 29, 2014

Never seen Neptune? Now is a good time to try, as the outermost ice giant world reaches opposition this weekend at 14:00 Universal Time (UT) or 10:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29th. This means that the distant ...

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

Aug 29, 2014

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

User comments : 0