NASA to Make Repairs to Successful Atlantis

NASA said it’s not too worried about a section of the space shuttle Atlantis that appears to have been damaged during launch.

Astronauts continue to make preparations for their first space-walk outside the International Space Station. The astronauts will attach a new 35,000 pound segment to the space station and then check on the thermal blanket that has come loose.

After a perfect launch and a safe arrival at the International Space Station, Houston is dealing with a problem.

“During the survey of the robot arm that the crew was doing, the crew saw that one of the blankets - a corner of it was raised up a little bit,” said John Shannon of NASA.

A section of thermal blanket, which covers the shuttle’s orbital maneuvering system, peeled back during flight. It’s not a major issue now, but NASA engineers need to find out if it could become one on the trip back to Earth.

NASA engineers aren’t sure how it happened - the blanket’s stitching may have come loose, or debris may have knocked it loose during launch. They said it is not a threat to the crew’s safety.

“We’re pretty early in the process. It’s not a great deal of concern over it right now, but like I say, there’s a lot of work to be done,” Shannon explained.

If Atlantis flies home with the blanket bunched, as is, the area underneath could overheat and damage the shuttle. NASA wants to avoid that at all costs, as this same spacecraft is supposed to launch again in October.

Astronauts could repair the thermal blanket on their final space walk. NASA is expected to make a decision in a few days.


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