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Astronauts Will Skip Shuttle Fix

NASA decides gash won't be a hazard during re-entry
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2007 2:57 AM CDT
Astronauts Will Skip Shuttle Fix
In this image from NASA TV a gouge in the underside of a wing on the shuttle Endeavour is shown during a photo survey of the craft, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007. NASA engineers are using the images to determine if the damage to the heat shield is enough to make another space walk for repairs. (AP Photo/NASA...   (Associated Press)

NASA has decided against a risky spacewalk repair job on the gouged heat shield of the space shuttle Endeavour, AP reports. Engineers concluded that a gash in the tiled underside of the spacecraft will not be a hazard during re-entry. Attempting a repair could risk causing more damage and could be dangerous. An earlier attempt was aborted when an astronaut's glove ripped.

Astronaut Alvin Drew said the crew welcomes NASA's call. "I trust their confidence that we can get home safely," he said. But a physicist who helped investigate the Columbia disaster  disagrees. The Columbia's heat shield was also damaged. "This attitude of  'it looks like it's OK, let's not do anything about it,'  seems like the Columbia NASA,"  he said. (More NASA stories.)

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