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SFGate.com: Shuttle Tiles – Columbia

SFGate.com is carrying a story tonight on yesterday’s Columbia shuttle disintegration by AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn that is sure to get wide coverage. She focuses in on the key issue regarding Columbia’s disintegration: the tiles and what happened to them during launch?

An earlier NASA report on tile damage to STS-87 was quite revealing (I can’t seem to find it tonight — perhaps NASA has removed it? Lawrence Lee linked to it yesterday).

Clearly, the shuttle was designed lacking any understanding of or appreciation for the potential damage that debris from its own external fuel tank might deliver to the fragile tiles and leading edge RCC coatings on its wings. Yet, repeatedly, there has been damage to the various shuttles during their launches — from other parts of the whole vehicle.

Gosh, this really feels like the “O-ring” story all over again.

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