It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Inadequate methods of applying and repairing foam on the space shuttle's fuel tank probably contributed to the dangerous loss of a chunk of the insulation during Discovery's launch 2 1/2 months ago, a NASA investigation team concluded Friday... Gilbrech's team suspects workers inadvertently crushed the foam while conducting repairs in that area, or handled it in such a way that resulted in damage. The tank was worked on considerably more than previous ones because of all the post-Columbia modifications.
Some redesign work will be required in the spot where foam came off Columbia and resulted in a fatal blow to the wing. During Discovery's liftoff, an 8-inch piece of foam broke off that same area. In all, worrisomely large foam chunks flew off in five spots.
The investigation team found no evidence of negligence, said Gilbrech, who is deputy director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. Workers followed procedures, "it's just we didn't really have an appreciation for the significance that this handling damage could have...." Numerous tests are planned in coming months to establish just how sensitive the foam is and whether it can be easily crushed by workers. Foam is about as well understood right now as steel was during the Industrial Revolution, Gilbrech said.