CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- NASA engineers think they have found the cause of foam falling from brackets and damaging the fuel tank on the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour.
The space agency said X-rays of the metal brackets holding the fuel lines indicate microscopic cracks in a thin layer of foam atop the brackets are to blame. The tiny cracks in the heat-resistant foal material can lead to the lighter insulating foam coming off during the stresses of a launch, shuttle program manager N. Wayne Hale told reporters Friday.
“The fact that we were able to identify the most likely cause with a simple test, X-raying the fittings, was heartening," said Hale, who noted the underlying heat-resistant foam is not necessary and technicians will be removing all the foam from the oxygen line brackets. Only light insulating foam will be used in the future.
The modifications will take about nine days and will be finished for the launch of the shuttle Discovery scheduled Oct. 23 for a mission to the International Space Station.