Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kelly optimistic tile damage isn't serious

Endeavour commander Mark Kelly has been too busy so far today to get an update on the status of the orbiter's heat shield, but he expects analysts to clear it of damage that could pose a danger during atmospheric re-entry.

"We've seen this stuff before," Kelly said during media interviews this morning.
On Wednesday, mission managers identified three tiles with some damage on the ship's underside that were being studied by analysts in Houston. Two were on or near the right landing gear door and one on the right inboard elevon.

"I’m aware of the damage and I know it’s being looked at," said Kelly. "We have a whole team of people that are working around the clock to take a look at it. From my point of view, we’ve seen this kind of thing before. On STS-121 we had some tile damage. That was my second flight. It looked kind of similar. We took a closer look and it was eventually cleared for flight. So I expect the same thing."

Managers are expected to provide an update on the analysis this afternoon.

If necessary, the shuttle crew could perform a close inspection on Flight Day 6, early Saturday.

A final "late" inspection will be done before Endeavour undocks and heads home for the final time.


Ishmael said...

Wow, how scary is that - can they fix tiles in space?

Bruce said...

What did they call the tank, Franken-Tank? Just think of the dozens of flights before they even started looking at the tiles for damage.