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Shuttle foam loss, range safety questioned
Posted: Mon, Mar 27, 2006, 7:42 AM ET (1242 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) The shuttle Discovery lost more foam on its launch last July than on previous missions, according to one report, while a separate report uncovered a range safety issue that was overruled prior to the launch of an earlier mission. Florida Today reported Sunday that Discovery suffered 176 "dings and gouges" during the STS-114 mission last summer, higher than the average of 144 on previous flights. However, NASA officials said the damage was less severe than on previous flights, which the agency attributes to getting a betted handle on foam shedding from the shuttle's external tank. The Florida Today article noted, though, that during the runup to last year's flight managers overruled requests by engineers for changes to parts of the tank that shed the most foam. Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday that NASA and Air Force officials overruled a request by Air Force range safety officers to delay the launch of the shuttle Endeavour in June 2002 when a backup command destruct link for the shuttle's solid rocket boosters malfunctioned. The officers protested to the Air Force and then to NASA, but both agencies concluded there was no wrongdoing when the head of KSC and the commander of the 45th Space Wing decided to go ahead with the launch.
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