Stories tagged space dive

Aug
15
2007

Endeavour’s belly: A view of the Space Shuttle Endeavour as the crew puts the shuttle though a rendezvous pitch maneuver, allowing the crewmembers on the nearby International Space Station to document the vehicle's thermal protection system condition.  Image courtesy NASA.
Endeavour’s belly: A view of the Space Shuttle Endeavour as the crew puts the shuttle though a rendezvous pitch maneuver, allowing the crewmembers on the nearby International Space Station to document the vehicle's thermal protection system condition. Image courtesy NASA.
NASA is still mulling over whether to repair the 3 1/2-inch-long, 2-inch-wide gouge in two tiles on Endeavour’s belly. There are thousands of these tiles that cover Endeavour’s belly that protect it from the heat of reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Current status is that the earliest NASA will have a decision is Thursday. NASA has earlier indicated that they did not feel it is necessary to fix the gouge, but were withholding a final decision until heat-blasting tests were completed. The concern is not that the gouge could result in another Columbia-like disaster during reentry, but that heat will get through to the aluminum structure underneath the tiles resulting in lengthy post-mission repairs.

As I have been hearing about this situation my mind drifts back to a Popular Science article I read a few weeks ago about space diving. Both the space-age equivalent of super-extreme sky diving and also a potential alternate method for astronauts to return to Earth should their spaceship be unsafe to do so, space diving is being developed by a new company called Orbital Outfitters. Their ambitious plan is to demonstrate a 120,000-foot jump in one of their space dive suits by 2009 and a 60-mile space dive within two years.