No repairs on damaged Endeavour shuttle



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No repairs on damaged Endeavour shuttle

Nasa has announced that it will not perform repairs on a gash in the Endeavour space shuttle's body.

The space agency had been conducting tests over the last week to determine whether to fix the three-inch square gouge in the spacecraft's heat shield, which could threaten the safety of the crew upon returning to Earth.

A spokesperson for NASA said: "The mission control centre in Houston informed the STS-118 and Expedition 15 crews late Thursday that Saturday’s spacewalk will not include repairs of space shuttle Endeavour’s heat shield.

"After hours of reviewing data and imagery collected during the inspections by the STS-118 crew, the managers decided the damage did not pose a safety risk to the crew or Endeavour."

The Reuters news agency reports John Shannon, chairman of the mission's management team, as saying: "It does not constitute a risk to the crew, it is not expected to cause any damage to the vehicle structure.

"You have something you know you can live with, why would you take the risk of the (spacewalk) to change that?" he added.

Last week, Nasa said it had noticed "five areas of concern" while the shuttle performed a back flip near the International Space Station for the inspection of its underside.

Mr Shannon said the damage to the shuttle had been caused by "an ice impact" after it took off on August 8th.

Heat shields are vital for protecting shuttles; in 2003 all seven crew onboard the Columbia space shuttle died after the vessel burned up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere due to heat shield damage.

Regards Satdude.