NASA to do more fixes on Shuttle before next flight
NASA has announced that their space shuttle managers have ordered more design changes on the ships’ fuel tanks. However, they are still hopeful that they would be able to get the shuttle prepared for its next planned launch in May next year. The engineers have planned to test various ways to eradicate the foam problems with the surface of the Space Shuttle, which has plagued the last two launches.
They are now trying to find ways to test and analyze several options for using the tanks without protective foam ramps. These foam layers are pretty important as they shield underlying cables and pressurization lines from the supersonic speeds of launch. They have discovered certain cracks on these layers of foams and this has launched a fresh round of criticism over the safety of the shuttle for next mission.
The NASA engineers believe that these cracks were caused by the extreme cold of the cryogenic propellants used for launch. NASA’s spaceflight chief Bill Gerstenmaier said in a statement about NASAâ€™s plans: “We’ve decided not to fly with the [ramps], but we have to put some kind of [protective covering] in that area. There are multiple solutions. [Engineers] are just trying to decide which one of those is the right one to do that gives us the right safety margins.”
NASA is in big problem with these issues related to the safety of the missions considering they have to complete the long delayed work on the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle fleet is due to retire in 2010 and before that NASA has plans to launch 18 more shuttle missions to the space station and one mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
If they are to conduct these many missions to space in their remaining Space Shuttle crafts, they need to ensure the safety of the crew and the craft itself.