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A real vote of confidence

Another piece of foam came off, and it hit the shuttle. May these astronauts get home safely, no thanks to NASA’s really detailed approach to quality assurance. Emphasis mine —

Space shuttle Discovery escaped damage from the potentially deadly chunk of foam that broke off from the fuel tank during liftoff, but may have been struck in the wing by a much smaller piece, NASA said Thursday.

Even if the small foam fragment did hit, engineers believe the impact caused no damage of concern, said deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale. “This is the closest to a potential hit that we have out of all the data we’ve got,” Hale said at an evening press conference. That’s why it generated “a great deal of interest,” he added.

Despite the latest development, officials said Discovery still looks safe to fly home in a week, but stressed it will be another few days before the space agency can conclusively give the shuttle a clean bill of health.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding