Astronauts to Work on Shuttle in Space

Astronaut Steve Robinson is photographed by fellow spacewalker Soichi Noguchi of Japan.

Astronaut Steve Robinson is photographed by fellow spacewalker Soichi Noguchi of Japan's helmet camera Monday. Reuters/NASA TV hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters/NASA TV
Engineers at NASA worked to devise a means of securing the filler among tile samples. i i

NASA engineers have devised a means of securing the filler among protective tile samples. Ceramic-coated gap fillers are used to prevent hot gas from seeping into gaps in the tiles. NASA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA
Engineers at NASA worked to devise a means of securing the filler among tile samples.

NASA engineers have devised a means of securing the filler among protective tile samples. Ceramic-coated gap fillers are used to prevent hot gas from seeping into gaps in the tiles.

NASA

NASA says astronauts will use a spacewalk planned for Wednesday to attempt to strengthen Space Shuttle Discovery's heat insulation. Analysis has revealed that filler material protruding from the underside of the spacecraft could threaten its safety.

Acknowledging some doubt as to the extent of the damage, NASA officials said that two specific areas would be addressed, by wedging ceramic materials into crevices that could pose a danger to the shuttle.

The Discovery shuttle mission is the first since 2003, when Columbia broke up on re-entry, killing all seven of its crew. In that incident, a hole in the craft's wing allowed superheated gases to enter the ship as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

The outing to repair the heat filler is scheduled for Wednesday. It will be performed by astronaut Steve Robinson and Soichi Noguchi of Japan. NASA engineers have outlined a procedure to remove or trim the protruding materials.

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