Discovery's launch pad severely damaged
rpshen | June 2, 2008 at 03:39 pmby
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Heat-resistant bricks lining large sections of the "flame trench" wall beneath the shuttle's mobile launch platform were blown out by Discovery's booster exhaust, littering the area behind the pad and damaging a perimeter fence.
The Apollo-era launch complexes, modified for the space shuttle, must endure enormous pressures and extreme heating when shuttles take off but its not yet clear what caused the damage or whether the debris could have posed a risk for Discovery. Based on photos from cameras around the pad perimeter, the damage appeared to occur after Discovery was well off the pad.
The next launch from pad 39A is scheduled for Oct. 8. NASA sources say engineers believe the damage can be repaired by then with no impact on plans to launch Atlantis on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
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