Heat protection system on Space Shuttle Atlantis damaged during liftoff

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The hole in Atlantis's TPS.
Image: NASA.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

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Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis is one of the fleet of space shuttles belonging to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It was the fourth operational shuttle built. Following the destruction of Columbia, it is one of the three fully operational shuttles remaining in the fleet. The other two are Discovery and Endeavour. After it completes STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope service mission, Atlantis is scheduled to be the first shuttle retired from the fleet.

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The Space Shuttle Atlantis has received at least a 4 inch tear on its Thermal Protection System (TPS) on one of the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pods near the thrusters after it took off on June 8, but officials say the damage is not concerning yet, and the OMS was not damaged.

"There's not a whole lot of concerns just yet," said a spokesman for NASA, Louis Parker.

"Preliminary Area of Interest in TPS inspection: Around a 4 inch blanket reported sticking out at the port OMS pod. Crew reported that on the port OMS pod they can see a 4 to 5 inch piece of blanket sticking up. They are getting photos," said NASA.

The OMS is used to control the shuttle's movement in space and is also used for orbital injection and NASA says that preliminary imaging shows that the OMS was not damaged.

"Analysis by launch team looking at other camera views show that the tyvek cover did not strike the OMS pod," said NASA.

Astronauts inspected the shuttle for more damage at approximately 2:00 p.m. (eastern time) using Atlantis's robotic arm with digital cameras placed on the end, but found none and Atlantis is still planned to dock with the International Space Station.

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