August 03, 2005

Discovery Repairs

Thankfully, it appears that today's repair mission was a complete success, and the potentially threatening gap fillers were removed with minimal effort and without causing any damage to the thermal tiles. Read about it here.

Unfortunately, it now appears that a second spacewalk may be necessary to repair a thermal quilt outside the cockpit that may have been damaged by launch debris.

I wonder how many of these kinds of issues have previously gone unnoticed or uncared-about. Since NASA added additional cameras for the return-to-flight mission, Discovery has to be the most closely-studied orbiter in the history of the program. Perhaps our earlier ignorance really was bliss. I'm just surprised that this level of scrutiny wasn't applied to the earlier shuttle missions.

It will be interesting to see whether the safety-first culture at NASA will abate any after a few successful missions. It will have to in order to ever succeed in implementing President Bush's exploration initiative. It seems that repair spacewalks should be something that every crew of every vessel in space should be prepared to do.

Posted by JohnL at August 3, 2005 11:59 PM | TrackBack

"I wonder how many of these kinds of issues have previously gone unnoticed or uncared-about."

Me too. I don't think we've ever looked at the belly of the shuttle in space the way we have this time. I'm doubtful that these issues have popped up for the first time on this mission- but since we know about it, we obviously have to try to do something. I just wish we had been collecting this type of data on every shuttle flight...

Of course, I'd also fly on the next one in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Jack Grey at August 4, 2005 11:33 PM
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