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NASA studying shuttle foam debris
Posted: Fri, Jul 17, 2009, 9:24 AM ET (1324 GMT)
STS-127: ET foam shedding (NASA) NASA shuttle managers said Thursday that they are studying "unusual" foam shedding from the shuttle's external tank during Wednesday afternoon's launch. In at least two cases foam from the external tank did hit the shuttle, but officials said there was no evidence that the debris did any serious damage to the orbiter that could pose a risk during reentry. The shuttle crew performed an initial inspection of the orbiter on Thursday and will perform other checks, including a "backflip" as it approaches the ISS on Friday so that the station crew can photograph the orbiter's underside. Managers said the foam shedding was different from previous events in that at least some came from the "intertank" region of the external tank, a region that is structurally strong and less prone to shedding foam in general. While the debris does not appear to have caused damage, shuttle managers suggested they might delay the next shuttle mission, scheduled for launch in a month, if they don't understand what caused the shedding by then.
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