NASA astronauts miss 40 tiles in heat shield inspection

Crew found four dings on 4 tiles in inspection early this week; new review set for Friday

NASA disclosed today that an investigation earlier this week that found multiple dings in the space shuttle Atlantis' heat shield must be restarted because about 40 tiles were missed.

The crew of the Atlantis had spent nine hours inspecting the heat shields on Tuesday. Using the shuttle's robotic arm, astronauts collected data and images of critical areas of the shuttle's thermal protection system, especially on the craft's nose and the edges of its wings. Part of a routine checkup after any shuttle launch, the inspection took up most of the crew's first full day in space.

A few hours after the inspection began, NASA announced that dings or scratches were found in some of the shuttle's outer tiles.

Scratches were found on the forward part of the shuttle's right wing, close to where it connects to the fuselage, according to NASA spokeswoman Katherine Trinidad. The damage, found on four different heat shield tiles, looks minor, but NASA will continue to investigate it.

The damage seems to be related to a debris impact that occurred about 104 seconds after the Atlantis lifted off Monday afternoon.

After today's spacewalk wrapped up late this afternoon, NASA announced that they have discovered that an area of the shuttle's heat shield had not been inspected at all. The area is below the forward thrusters on the vehicle's port nose.

The NASA astronauts will again use the robotic arm and sensors attached to it to run another inspection before the scheduled spacewalk begins Friday morning.

NASA has been especially diligent about studying the heat shields since the space shuttle Columbia broke apart upon re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. According to NASA, an investigation found that the disaster was caused by a hole in the heat-resistant panels that protected the wing from the high temperatures of re-entry. The hole allowed superheated air into the wing, which was destroyed, sending the shuttle spinning out of control before it broke apart.

Atlantis blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday afternoon. The crew is on an 11-day mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NASAhubbleatlantis

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?