Space Shuttle and Foam

Great article at New Scientist about the problems that NASA is having with the foam insulation on the space shuttle and what they are doing about it:
More foam problems plague the shuttle
The foam on the space shuttle's external fuel tank is in the news again, and that's almost inevitably bad news. The moderately good news is that NASA has figured out why a chunk of foam fell from Endeavour's external tank earlier this month, gouging the thermal protective tiles on the shuttle's underside.

The defect wasn't in the foam itself; it was in a thin layer of cork-like material called "super lightweight ablator" deposited on five metal brackets carrying the liquid oxygen feed line. The cork-like material was in turn covered by insulating foam to prevent ice from forming on the supercooled tank.

The good news is that NASA knows how to fix it � by removing the corky stuff, which is not needed with current launch profiles, and coating the brackets with insulating foam. The bad news is that X-ray scans of the external tank set to fly on the shuttle Discovery in October have revealed cracks in the corky layers on four of its five brackets.
So basically, they have a fix for the problems but this pushes the launch dates back quite a bit.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on August 28, 2007 6:47 PM.

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