Feeds

NASA delays decision over Shuttle repair

Weighing up risks

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

NASA has put off making a decision about repairing a hole in the insulation under the space shuttle's wing until tomorrow, according to reports.

If the repair is needed, the fix will take place on the next spacewalk, slated for Saturday.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the team aboard Endeavour asked mission control whether another spacewalk was likely. Commander Scott Kelly was told: "We have no idea which way the wind is blowing at the moment."

The gash in the thermal tiles is roughly three and half inches long, by two inches wide. In one area, a one inch wide strip, the tile has been cut right through, exposing a part of the thermal fabric that covers the shuttle's frame.

The aluminium frame cannot get hotter than 350 degrees, NASA says. Simulations suggest it will heat to around 325 degrees, with the worst of the heat of re-entry skipping over the "wound".

Initial tests suggest a repair will not be needed, but this is clearly not an decision NASA can afford to get wrong. Although engineers are not worried about another catastrophic failure, as with Columbia, they are worried that over heating the area could mean long and expensive repairs once the shuttle is back on the ground.

NASA would prefer to avoid the risk of another spacewalk if it is not absolutely necessary. Leaving a spacecraft in orbit is not a safe thing to do, after all. But concerns are probably heightened, especially after the latest spacewalk was cut short when one of the astronauts noticed a two inch gash in his glove.

NASA said Rick Mastacchio was never in any danger, since only the glove's top two layers (of five) had been torn. But the reason for the tear is not clear: it could be sharp edges on the space station, but because it is the second torn glove in the last three missions, and managers are worried the suits might be showing signs of age.

Those in charge of planning the spacewalks said they would prefer not to have the team take another jaunt outside until they know why the glove tore. But the big boss, John Shannon, said he'd have no hesitation in ordering astronauts out the airlock if a repair is needed. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.