Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grounded!

The orbiter fleet has been grounded again due to at least two substantial foam shedding events from the external tank during Discovery's launch yesterday. These foam events happened in areas that have not previously been prone to shedding, making me wonder if aerodynamic changes to the tank caused by removal of the bipod ramps have had an unexpected side effect (although the location of the largest event would seem to be in a position far enough away and on the other side of a large fuel line to be unaffected). Thankfully, this event does not appear to have damaged Discovery and the rest of the mission should continue normally. Images of the missing foam are here. Program manager Bill Parsons has announced that there will be no flights until this new development is thoroughly understood and fixed.

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