Space shuttle launches on hold
17 July, 2009
Glad they are being cautious and I hope Endeavour has a safe return flight/landing.
NASA will hold off launching any more space shuttles until it understands why strips of insulating foam peeled off the fuel tank used by shuttle Endeavour, the U.S. space agency shuttle program manager said on Thursday.
Endeavour arrived safely in orbit after Wednesday’s liftoff from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida though video and images of the launch showed about a dozen pieces of debris flying off the fuel tank during the 8.5-minute climb to orbit.
Some smashed into the ship’s heat shield, though NASA does not believe they caused any serious damage.
“We’re not worried about this one, but we need to understand what’s going on for the next flight,” shuttle program manager John Shannon said at a news conference.
“This is new,” Shannon said. “I don’t know if we have a material issue or a process issue but we’ll get to the bottom of it and clear it before the August flight.”
He told Reuters in an interview that no new shuttle launches would take place until the foam loss problem was understood.