Monday, July 20, 2009

Endeavour's Thermal Protection System Cleared for Reentry!

After much analysis and briefings, Endeavour's thermal protection system has been cleared for reentry! The right hand side of the orbiter did exhibit some damage due to the foam that shed during ascent. However, only one of these damages really needed further evaluation due to the depth. In reviewing all the the high resolution photos, we saw a very clean heat shield with the exception of the foam damages. So, our job is done and now we're back at Kennedy Space Center. :)


Exodus11 said...

great news on the heat shield!

I have (probably a stupid) question for you regarding the tiles on the 'vehicle'. Why are some of the tiles a lighter gray and some are a darker almost black gray? Are the lighter tiles from previous re-entry's or are they purposely made this way for easy viewing?

Damaris B. Sarria said...

There are approx. 24,000 tiles on an orbiter. On average we only replace about ~150 or so tiles after an orbiter returns. Those replacements are due to material upgrades or if a tile is too degraded.

So a large majority of the tiles are from original installation. The grayish color you see on the tiles occurs over time through reentry and is also greatly attributed to outgassing.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the foam problems started ever since NASA switched to another foam material that's environment friendly because environment activities sued stating that the old foam was hazardous. And they said that the original foam never had this problem. So, the environment activists is the cause of these accidents and the lost of life.

Is this true? Did they switch foams?

Exodus11 said...

Very interesting.

Thank you,

sidd said...

do you ever feel a burn out? like are there days when you just feel down and disinterested and that dream looks so far, that strong yearn to achieve that dream of yours, you know the feeling you get days staring at the moon at nights, or walking down a beach early in the morning or the evening, those are days you feel good, but arent there days too when you just feel too tired and it all seems to far? what do you do to motivate yourself again and get back to that mindset of pumping yourself up and being upbeat to make it to space?

Damaris B. Sarria said...

Sidd, that is a good question. I never really feel like I am losing site of my goal. I am realistic about it and understand that it could never even happen. But how will I know if I don't keep trying?

There are definitely days I feel burnt out, stressed, and drained, but I take care of that by working out, being outdoors, and having great friends around. That usually helps me get back on track!

I make sure that I am happy with my life and the steps I take are not just for a "how to become an astronaut" checklist.