Feeds

Spacewalker fixes Shuttle's belly

All ship-shape and Bristol fashion

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Astronaut Stephen Robinson has managed to complete the fix to the underside of the Space Shuttle Discovery by pulling out two protruding "gap-fillers" by hand. NASA had been concerned that the disruption to the Shuttle's smooth underside would increase the amount of turbulence, and so heating in the area during a re-entry attempt, putting the Shuttle and crew at risk.

Robinson and crewmate Soichi Noguchi, who accompanied him on the space walk, are the first people to have seen the underside of a space shuttle while the craft is in orbit. Robinson was manoeuvred into position on the end of the International Space Station's 58ft robotic arm. In preparation for the spacewalk, he said he would be particularly careful not to bump his head while carrying out the fix.

NASA had provided forceps and astronauts had rigged up a makeshift hacksaw for Robinson to use if the gap-fillers proved difficult to remove. In the event, the fillers, which act almost like grouting in between the Shuttle's heat shield tiles, came out relatively easily. NASA says they were probably shaken loose during the launch.

The Shuttle launch was also marred by falling foam which NASA acknowledges could have hit the craft as it powered into space. However, NASA officials say they don't think the shuttle is at risk of suffering the same fate as Columbia, which broke up on re-entry in 2003.

During its launch a large chunk of foam fell from Columbia hitting, and damaging the craft on its wing. As the space-plane went through the atmosphere, superheated gases got inside, tearing the ship apart.

Shuttle Commander Eileen Collins said she is disappointed the foam problem is still not resolved.

"We were actually quite surprised to hear we had some large pieces of debris fall off the external tank, it wasn't what we had expected," she said. "Frankly we were disappointed to hear that had happened. We thought we had this problem fixed."

Collins now says she has few worries about re-entry, slated for Monday 8 August. ®

Related stories

Space-walk no. 3 to fix Shuttle
Discovery docks with ISS
Shuttle grounded again - indefinitely
NASA investigates falling debris
Shuttle actually lifts off

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.