Feeds

NASA: hail damage means no launch yet for Atlantis

Insulating foam causing problems again

Top three mobile application threats

NASA says it will not set a date for the next Shuttle launch until it has properly assessed the damage to the fuel tank.

The shuttle Atlantis was supposed to blast off last week, but the fuel tank's foam covering was damaged by "golf ball sized" hailstones as it sat on the launch pad during a storm in late February. NASA says the foam has thousands of dings in it, and it is not yet clear whether the dings can be repaired or whether the tank will have to be replaced in its entirety. Some can be sanded out, but around 1600 would have to be filled, engineers say.

NASA associate administrator for space operations Bill Gerstenmaier said the agency was planning more analysis. "Then we will have enough data to make a good decision."

The delay means one of the five planned launches for 2007 has had to be bumped into 2008. The agency says it hopes to catch up with its launch schedule by the middle of next year.

The foam is designed to prevent a build up of ice on the rocket ahead of a launch. Any ice that builds up can fall off, potentially damaging the Shuttle's insulation. Damaged foam is also more likely to fall off, as with the Columbia. NASA, understandably, does not want to risk a similar incident in the future.

The company that makes the tanks is trying out ways of applying a new layer of foam on a mock up of the launcher. According to reports, the company has also asked for time to test the heat resistance of the new foam.

If the tests are successful and the tank can be repaired, Atlantis could still be ready for a launch in May. If things slip further, for instance if it has to be swapped out for a new tank, there is no chance of a launch before June. The current launch window closes on 21 May, and another does not open until 8 June.

NASA's head of all things shuttle related, Wayne Hale, said: "The goal is to have a good tank." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.