Endeavor Essay

630 Words3 Pages
In August, 2007, the space shuttle Endeavor suffered minor damage to the heat shield tiles during liftoff. After the Columbia burned up on reentry in 2003 due to damaged tiles, NASA developed a protocol for repairing damaged tiles while in orbit. After much consideration, the decision was made NOT to attempt to repair the tiles on Endeavor while in orbit. Find a minimum of three different references discussing this incident and the decision made by NASA. Summarize the reasons both for and against repairing the tile while in orbit. If you had been on the team making this decision, would you have argued for or against the repair and why? In the case of the Endeavor Space Shuttle, NASA decided that the puncture in the tiles caused 58 seconds after launch by a tiny piece of debris weighing approximately 1/3 of an ounce from the external fuel tank was not enough of a concern to merit repair before re-entry (NYT). The design of the fuel tank is the reason for these problems just as in the Columbia and NASA is working hard to minimize the shedding during launch. However, the design of the shuttles is aging quickly as the vehicles are reaching retirement. In order to see the damage done to the space tile, the shuttle executed a backwards flip so that the underbelly of the vehicle could be photographed. An instrument boom with a laser scanner was then used to precisely determine the measurements of the hole in the tile. After many ground based simulations of reentry, NASA determined that the aluminum structure beneath the tiles would not become damaged to the point of expensive and timely repairs upon reentry. However, the astronauts onboard were prepared to attempt techniques that had not been done before. The shuttle was carrying cargo, spare parts, and a new piece to the International Space Station’s truss on the starboard side when the piece of debris from the

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