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However this would add a lot of extra weight, and if its going to protect the tiles on the shuttles underside and the wings then it would need to be attached somewhere...So there would have to be major modifications done to the shuttle it order for you "shield" to work.
Only part of one of the spacewalks and some time inside Discovery will be spent testing the repair techniques NASA hopes will fix any holes that might develop in the shuttle's thermal protection system, which protects the shuttle during re-entry.
Among the most promising repair techniques are three for tiles and one for the reinforced carbon carbon (RCC) that protects the most critical parts of the shuttle from extreme heat during re-entry.
A gray reflective liquid will be tested in two areas, as a replacement coating if any tiles lose their heat-reflecting black coating, and as a primer for the shuttle tile ablator, which is basically goo that fills gaps between tiles.
A third tile-repair technique -- fastening what looks like sheets of metal over missing tiles -- will not be tested because it would release potentially hazardous particles from tiles into the air inside the shuttle.
NASA is still working on a way to patch a hole the size of the one that caused Columbia's demise.
Originally posted by Terapin
The BEST way to make sure the shuttle is safe.... Is to park it in a museum. The Shuttle was designed in the 50's for Pete's sake. It is a dog of a space tug and we should have replaced it ages ago. It cant attain a decent high altitude orbit and many satellites have to be boosted into a higher orbit once released from the shuttle. It has a huge turn around time and requires an enormous ground crew. I am all for space exploration but this is like using an old VW beetle to deliver international parcels. ( like if Fed Ex merged with UPS... it would be Fed Up) Lets move ahead to a better more useful design that isn't so wasteful of resources and has more capabilities. The Newer designs are quite good and not to difficult to build ... so ... lets just do it!
The main problem with your idea is the oblative material you are recommending. Aluminum has far too low a melting point to do any good. You have to have a substance that has a very high ignition and/or melting point so that a large amount of energy is absorbed by that material before it dissipates that energy via its own destruction.
This is due to a USAF design criterion, that of high cross-range capability. This entails a high wing loading causing great heat.
Russia has the safest spacecraft ATM.
I think it is rediculas to keep using the shuttle. My country should just swallow its pride and buys some russian Soyuz to use till we build our CEV to relace it.
Originally posted by Terapin
Actually, much of the design/engineering work that the shuttle resulted from was done in the 50's. The Space shuttle program officialy started in the late 60's and the final design was built in the 70's.
Oh, and in regards to your comment that the shuttle was intended for building the space station.....The shuttles origional mission design was to provide satelite launch capabilities primarily for the Air Force and not for building the Space Station which is a much more recent project.
Ever hear of the Delta clipper?
Originally posted by Murcielago
Your first sentence is just dumb, and the Shuttle was designed in the 70's not the 50's. The shuttle's job is to build the ISS, not put satellites in orbit, it has only done that a few times.