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STS 124 May Have Rudder Problem; Plus Spots Debris

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posted on Jun, 13 2008 @ 08:28 AM
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Crew reports object near shuttle, protrusion on tail fin


The Discovery astronauts tested the shuttle's re-entry systems today and packed up for landing Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center. The tests went well, but the crew reported seeing a piece of debris of some sort floating away from the shuttle a few minutes later. They also called attention to a small protrusion on the shuttle's rudder/speed brake where a bit of insulation might have been displaced...


Source

NASA says the rudder does not look like a serious issue -- but the fact is they don't know yet. If they decide to get a better look at it with the shuttle robotic arm, they may discover the rudder damage is potentially a major problem, and they could potentially need to go back to the Space station for repair -- or even for eventual rescue from another shuttle (worst case).

I think they may even want to look at the shuttle with the robotic arm again to see where the debris came from...it may be rekated to new damage in the shuttle - damage that wasn't there when they did the robotic arm survey on Wednesday.

I don't think the debris and rudder "protrusion" are related since the debris was moving at a relative speed similar to the shuttles, and the debris was first seen closer to a wing, but I suppuse debris (ice, insulation) coming off the ship could have damaged the rudder.

Hopefully they will discover the issues are minor, and can proceed to a safe landing tomorrow.


[edit on 6/13/2008 by Soylent Green Is People]




posted on Jun, 13 2008 @ 12:45 PM
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UPDATE:

NASA decided the insulation seen floating away was not a critical piece of the shuttle. It was a clip that holds in place insulation that is there to protect parts of the tail fin on launch. It is said that past orbiters have returned with this clip missing.

below is an updated article -- by the way, in the first sentence when they refer to "brakes" they are referring to the "split tail rudder speed brake", not the brakes in the wheels. The rudder speed brake is two vertical flaps that open up upon landing, and are perpendicular to the forward movement of the shuttle to create drag, thus slowing the craft down. NASA believes the speed brake will work just fine without this piece that has apparently come loose.

Good news.

Updated story:
news.yahoo.com...


[edit on 6/13/2008 by Soylent Green Is People]



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