The latest space shuttle news.
CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA discovered a worrisome gouge on Endeavour's belly soon after the shuttle docked with the international space station Friday, possibly caused by ice that broke off the fuel tank a minute after liftoff.This news sounds awfully familiar to events from two years ago, not to mention the Columbia disaster.. Every shuttle mission these days always involves concerns being raised whether the spacecraft was damaged during takeoff. Space shuttle launches are supposed to end in 2010, but I think the time is past already to end the program. There is no scientific research these missions conduct that is worth another seven astronauts being killed by faulty and out of date technology.
The gouge -- about 3 inches square -- was spotted in zoom-in photography taken by the space station crew shortly before Endeavour delivered teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and her six crewmates to the orbiting outpost.
``What does this mean? I don't know at this point,'' said John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team. If the gouge is deep enough, the shuttle astronauts may have to patch it during a spacewalk, he said.
On Sunday, the astronauts will inspect the area, using Endeavour's 100-foot robot arm and extension beam. Lasers on the end of the beam will gauge the exact size and depth of the gouge, Shannon said, and then engineering analyses will determine whether the damage is severe enough to warrant repairs.
The gouge -- white against the black tiles on the underside of Endeavour -- is several feet from the starboard main landing gear door. It appears to be the result of ice, although engineers are not positive; the damage could have been caused by a piece of foam insulation that came off the external fuel tank.
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Labels: Science and Technology