May 12 2009

Space Shuttle Took Debris Hit On Ascent

Published by at 3:01 pm under All General Discussions

Looks to be minor so far, but the Space Shuttle Atlantis took a debris hit on ascent:

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center are evaluating a small area of tile damage on the forward part of the shuttle Atlantis’ right wing where it joins the ship’s fuselage. The nicked tiles, apparently damaged during launch by a debris impact around 106 seconds after liftoff, were spotted during an ongoing heat shield inspection by the Atlantis astronauts.

“Just want to let y ou know that during the starboard survey, LDRI survey, in the chine area there is a stretch of about 21 inches, four or five tiles that show some nick damage it looks like,” Burbank said. “It probably was debris related. The ascent imagery folks have gone back and looked at the imagery and there was an event at about 104 seconds or so that was in that area that might correspond to what we saw there.

“At this point, the preliminary assessment is it doesn’t look very serious, those tiles are pretty thick, the nicks looks to be pretty small,” he said. “It’s probably too early to say we’d be looking at a focused inspection, but we are at this point discussing possibly having to get back into the ET (external tank) umbilical imagery downlink procedure sometime later here to see if we can get some more information on the debris.”

Of course after the Columbia disintegration on reentry it is now standard procedure to assess the shuttles for any damage during lift off. Fingers crossed this remains a minor, non-threatening, incident.

One response so far

One Response to “Space Shuttle Took Debris Hit On Ascent”

  1. lurker9876 says:

    That is not good. NASA just reported that these are minor dents. Hope they are right.