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Key shuttle test delayed
Posted: Thu, Jun 5, 2003, 8:07 PM ET (0007 GMT)
STS-107 patch (NASA) A test that may provide key proof to support the leading explanation for the loss of the shuttle Columbia was delayed Thursday because of weather. Investigators at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio planned to fire a block of foam at a model of the leading edge of the shuttle Thursday to see what damage it would cause. However, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) decided to delay the test when weather kept some investigators from leaving Houston; the test has been tentatively rescheduled for Friday, weather permitting. The test is similar to one conducted last week when a a foam chunk hitting the wing created a gap between a T-seal and panel similar to one investigators believe could have allowed hot gas to enter the shuttle during reentry. That test was performed using Fiberglass panels from Enterprise rather than the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC)panels used on the leading edge of the wing of the operational orbiters. Friday's test will instead use a real RCC panel taken from the shuttle Discovery. Investigators also said that analysis of low-frequency sound waves recorded on February 1 allowed them to rule out a meteor strike or lightning as the cause of the Columbia accident.
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