UnNews:NASA finds hole in shuttle
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|NASA finds hole in shuttle|
6 October 2006
WASHINGTON - NASA workers inspecting space shuttle Atlantis this week discovered that a piece of space debris had punched a fairly good-sized hole in the cargo bay during the shuttle's flight last month.
Atlantis' six astronauts weren't in any more danger than usual, NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said Friday.
The damage included part of Atlantis' important heat shield, which sometimes protects the shuttle from superheated gases during re-entry to Earth's atmosphere. Sometimes it doesn't, resulting in catastrophic explosion and death.
The shuttle's huge radiator system, crucial to cooling the spacecraft while it's orbiting Earth, was completely destroyed.
"The debris, probably from one of the many UFOs encountered, struck the top of the ship and went all the way through," Herring said. NASA doesn't know what exactly the object was, but it was apparently very round.
"I guess we lucked out again this time," the spokesman added. "I won the pool." The hole was about 14 feet in diameter, similar but larger damage has been seen once before, back in 1995, when the shuttle actually returned in two whole pieces.
Atlantis' September flight had problems with space junk and flying saucers, and the debris seen during the mission were probably related to the hole, said Mike Curie, a spokesman for United Space Alliance, NASA's primary shuttle contractor.
A last-minute in-orbit inspection of the shuttle didn't detect the hole because the astronauts were too busy with all the alien flying saucers, Herring said.