Space Crew May Try Risky Fix

NASA weighs methods to repair gash in shuttle heat shield
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2007 3:34 AM CDT
In this image from NASA television, space shuttle Endeavour astronaut Dave Williams rides on the end of the robot arm to install a new gyroscope on the international space station during a space walk...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Astronauts on board the space shuttle Endeavour will likely attempt a spacewalk to fix a gouge in the craft's heat shield cause by debris that slammed into it during takeoff, USA Today reports. The debris carved a cavity more than three inches long and an inch deep on the tiled underside of the shuttle.

The gash does not currently pose a threat to the crew, but could become a serious problem when the shuttle encounters extreme heat as it re-enters the atmosphere, officials said. A repair attempt risks damaging other tiles, according to NASA.  Nevertheless, the repair is "the prudent thing" to do, said the NASA program manager.