Astronauts Look at Endeavour's Tummy Trouble

NASA examines gouge as flying foam invokes memories of Columbia
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2007 5:28 PM CDT
In this photo made from the NASA-TV, a view is seen from the helmet camera from Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams as he and mission specialist Rick Mastracchio, right, use hand tools to work...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Endeavor’s crew gave NASA a better look at a wound on the space shuttle’s belly today, CNN reports. Astronauts used a robotic arm to photograph the three-inch gouge on the shuttle’s heat shield, a ding caused by a flying piece of foam during liftoff. NASA hopes the image will show whether the damage needs to be repaired.

Errant foam is a recurring problem on shuttle flights and helped doom the 2003 Columbia mission. NASA now equips crews with kits to repair damaged tiles, but says they’re ready to chance it if Endeavour has to make an emergency landing on short notice. NASA hopes to extend the mission to a record 10 days thanks to more efficient power-generating sources.