Hoodia request

Horacio Mccain MALTWMLTAZHM at msn.com
Fri Jul 29 08:37:24 PDT 2005



Try a SAMPLE today and see what everyone's talking about firsthand. 


Discovery Commander Eileen Collins said from orbit Friday that she was sur=
prised to learn a large piece of foam broke from the shuttle's external ta=
nk despite years of work to prevent such shedding in the wake of the Colum=
bia tragedy.
However, Collins said she's confident Discovery, which unlike Columbia was=
n't hit by the large piece of foam, will get her crew home safely.

"Personally, I did not expect any large pieces of foam to fall off the ext=
ernal tank," the commander said during her first interviews from space Fri=
day morning. "I thought we had that licked."

Collins and astronaut Andy Thomas described the setback to the program as =
a disappointment, but said they believe the problem must and can be fixed.=

"I don't think we should fly again unless we do something to prevent this =
from happening again," Collins said. "The shuttle is due to be retired eve=
ntually, but we've got more years in them. ... I'm not ready to give up ye=

Discovery's astronauts spent Friday morning unloading 15 tons of supplies =
onto the space station. They planned to check the shuttle for damage later=
 in the day after
NASA said a smaller piece of foam may have hit a wing during liftoff.

"I would say there is no significant damage to the shuttle," Collins said.=
 "We know we do have some small damage."

That damage, however, isn't any different from the beating shuttles often =
sustain on the way to orbit, she said.

"We are staying focused on the mission and we know we are in good hands wi=
th the people on the ground," Collins said. "I love being in space. It's m=
agical up here."

NASA officials have said Discovery does look safe to fly home in a week, b=
ut stressed it will be another few days before the space agency can conclu=
sively give the shuttle a clean bill of health.

NASA analysts have identified 11 areas =97 including Discovery's wings, no=
se and belly =97 they want astronauts to take another look at. Nine of tho=
se areas were set to be examined Friday using the shuttle's new laser-tipp=
ed extension to its robotic arm.

Astronauts Stephen Robinson and Soichi Noguchi were to take a personal loo=
k at the other two areas =97 along the leading edges of the shuttle's wing=
s =97 during the mission's first spacewalk Saturday. It will be the first =
of three orbital outings.

During the spacewalks, Robinson and Noguchi will replace a gyroscope, whic=
h helps steer the space station; try out new repair techniques for the shu=
ttle's tiles and delicate carbon panels; and install a storage platform on=
 the station.

In television images Friday, Robinson smiled and waved to the camera as he=
 worked weightlessly with Noguchi about the station. They wore yellow plas=
tic hard hats for comic effect. Robinson, with a manual in his hand, wore =
a hat so tiny it didn't come close to covering his head.

The lighthearted atmosphere contrasted with days of sobering news. NASA su=
spended future shuttle flights earlier this week after learning about the =
big piece of foam insulation, which weighed less than a pound.

It was an alarming repeat of the problem that doomed Columbia in 2003, whe=
n a piece of foam knocked a hole in its left wing. The searing gases of re=
-entry melted the wing from the inside out, causing the spacecraft to disi=
ntegrate. All seven astronauts aboard died.

The small bit of foam that may have hit Discovery's right wing came off ab=
out 20 seconds after the large piece, and was from the same general area, =
deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said. None of the newly installe=
d wing sensors detected anything unusual.

An earlier inspection with the laser didn't reveal any damage. Camera view=
s during liftoff were inconclusive because the foam tumbled out of sight.

NASA already has run tests showing that if the foam did strike the wing, i=
t would have exerted just one-tenth of the energy needed to cause worrisom=
e damage, Hale said.

"So we feel very good about this," he said.

If the astronauts do find a problem with the shuttle, however, the conting=
ency plan is to consider untested repair techniques that were developed af=
ter the Columbia disaster or have the astronauts stay on the space station=
 until a rescue mission can be launched.

"We have always had the option of staying on the space station," Collins s=
aid. "I don't think that is going to be the case for us."

NASA said Friday it was trying to come up with ways to leave more water an=
d oxygen aboard the space station than initially planned, given the ground=
ing of its shuttle fleet. Water is generated as a byproduct of the shuttle=
's fuel cells, which power the spacecraft. 

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