Endeavour astronauts won't repair shuttle
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
NASA has determined the gouge in Space Shuttle Endeavour is not a safety concern for the Astronauts.
Somehow, NASA experts track record in giving opinions is not flawless, especially when they make the decision while safely on the ground. These opinions may not be too comforting to the Endeavour Astronauts in space who have to take a nerve shattering re entry back to earth all the while visions of Space Shuttle Columbia's are fresh in their memories. The stress the Endeavour Astronauts families and Space Shuttle Columbia's families watching Endeavour return to earth will certainly have them on edge. Let's hope they make it back safely next week. url="http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=b4da33bd-d9d9-45d4-82ea-f35a321315ec&k=430"]NASA has informed the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Endeavour that they won't have to repair the shuttle's heat shield -- damaged when a piece of debris smashed into the underbelly.
"Endeavour's crew was informed just before bedtime (Thursday) that mission managers had decided not to call upon them to repair the shuttle's heat shield," NASA said in a statement.
Cmdr. Scott Kelly and other crew members, including Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, had spent much of Thursday preparing for a possible space walk to repair what NASA is describing as a "small ding" in the silicon tiles on the underside of the shuttle.Now, on the fourth spacewalk of the mission, Williams and crewmate Clay Anderson will instead focus on the installation of two antennas and a stowage stand for the shuttle's orbiter boom sensor system, as well as other tasks, NASA said.
The two will also retrieve two suitcase-sized packages known as Materials International Space Station Experiments 3 and 4. Those experiments were scheduled for retrieval at the end of Wednesday's spacewalk, which was cut short when Rick Mastracchio spotted a hole in his spacesuit glove.
Mr. Kelly had said on Wednesday that he was not concerned with safety.
"My understanding is this tile damage is not an issue of the safety of the crew. It's more of an issue of the ability to reuse the orbiter and damaging the orbiter."
The damage, discovered Sunday, was caused by a piece of debris that hit near the landing gear hatch.
NASA officials conducted simulations on Earth, applying extreme heat on a sample of shuttle shield that was damaged to determine if Endeavour could land safely.
The damage is reminiscent of the damaged heat tile which caused the space shuttle Columbia to disintegrate on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in 2005, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
The edge of the left wing had been struck during takeoff by a piece of foam insulation the size of a small briefcase. Some engineers suspected the damage while the space shuttle was still in orbit, but NASA managers limited the investigation on the grounds that little could be done even if problems were found.
Endeavour's trip is to last 14 days. NASA is trying to deliver as much spare equipment as possible to the space station before the shuttle fleet is retired in three years.
Space station astronauts have been busy transferring supplies and equipment between the shuttle and the International Space Station.
At least 11 construction missions are needed to finish the station, which is a project of 16 countries. NASA also would like to fly two resupply missions and a servicing call to the Hubble Space Telescope before the shuttles stop flying.[/q]