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.