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NASA considering gap filler repair
Posted: Mon, Aug 1, 2005, 5:38 AM ET (0938 GMT)
STS-114: logo (NASA) NASA shuttle engineers and managers are considering having the STS-114 crew perform an additional spacewalk to repair two gap fillers that appear to be protruding out between tiles on the underside of the shuttle Discovery. Officials said Sunday that two gap fillers appear to be sticking out no more than two centimeters from the surface of the tiles. Engineers are concerned that the gap fillers, made of ceramic cloth, could disrupt the boundary layer of air during reentry, causing increased heating on other portions of the orbiter. Gap fillers have slipped out before, but not to the same degree, managers said. The problem could be corrected simply by having an astronaut pull the gap fillers out, but such an EVA would be the first time astronauts have ventured to the underside of the orbiter during a spacewalk, raising debates within the shuttle program whether the problem is great enough to merit the risk of such an EVA. The gap filler problem does not appear to be related to foam debris shed by the shuttle's external tank during launch.
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