Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NASA Says It Can't Meet Investigation Board's Goals: "NASA officials said today that they would be unable to comply fully with a critical recommendation from the board that investigated the loss of the Columbia and its crew, giving the space shuttle the ability to repair damage to its heat-protection system in orbit.

"The manager of the shuttle engineering office, Steve M. Poulos Jr., told reporters that when the shuttle Atlantis lifted off on the mission that resumes the program, it will carry repair kits so spacewalking astronauts can mend heat-shielding tiles and the carbon composite that protects the wings' leading edges from the fierce heat of re-entry.

"Although the tile repair is fairly advanced, repairing the composite, reinforced carbon-carbon, needs much more work, Mr. Poulos said. Astronauts might be able to work on just small breaches, not gashes the size of the one believed to have doomed the Columbia."

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