That sucks. Hope everything turns out OK. Dale, do we have the ability to fix something like this now, or maybe the folks at the International Space Station, perhaps?
Thanks for the update Matt.
Oh bloody great, this could or could not be bad. NASA is not going to take any chances, during lift off, they had more than 100 cameras on the ground plus camers on the tanlk and shuttle and two planes that monitored Discovery. Every angle was covered.
Quite the chunk of foam that came off but it sounds like it did not hit the shuttle.
Foam is missing from the tank in an image taken from the orbiter.
The main issue is the foam, until NASA can stop this foam from coming off, the fleet is grounded. From what I just saw on the CCN news feed, the chunk of foam that came off is around the liquid oxygen feedline around where it's circled in this pic from the NASA archive.
This is what happened to Columbia and the impact was catastrophic.
This is a pic of what the foam looks like as an example.
Improvments of the area of foam.
The bipod fitting that helps attach the External Tank to the orbiter has been redesigned. The old design, left, used a foam ramp to prevent ice from building up on the fitting. Falling foam opened a hole in one of Columbia's wings, leading to the orbiter's breakup on entry. The new design, right, uses heaters instead of foam, to prevent ice buildup.
Sounds like a chipped thermal tile on space shuttle Discovery's belly does not appear to be a serious problem, based on what engineers have seen so far.
The crew of the ISS (International Space Station) have no means of repairing the shuttle.
As for the Discovery crew that can make repairs, maybe. I was watching Discovery Channel at work today and they showed some equipment/tools that have to be tested to make repairs. This has only been tested on the ground but not in space.
I saw what looks like a caulking gun and another tool to dab some kind of milky foam to cover seams and so forth. There was also a small plug that can be inserted into a hole and then sealed with these tools.
They could also use this to repair the small chunk of tile missing.
I do remember when the Columbia first set sail on April 12th/1981 that some small pieces of tile was report missing.
OK, we're — we want to tell y'all here we do have a few tiles missing off both of them — off the starboard pod, basically it got what appears to be 3 tile and some smaller pieces and off the port pod — looks like — I see one full square and looks like a few little triangular shapes that are missing and we are trying to put that on TV right now.
There are over 30,000 heat tiles on the shuttle. Each have there own serial number and shape and size.
As for the the Unthinkable
you can read the link.
There was also a bird impact during liftoff but only on the External tank.
Besides the dangers posed by the shuttle's foam insulation, in this photo a bird hits the nose cone of the External Fueltank on Tuesday as the Discovery lifts off.
Man, this is Columbia all over again and just about as close to a Sci-Fi book I read back in 1981 called "Shuttle Down".
NASA will do everything in there power to bring the crew of Discovery home safe and sound.
Gene Kranz... "Failure is not an option."