Concerns over a small tear in a heat-protecting blanket on its exterior is overshadowing the space shuttle Atlantis’s latest mission. The craft is en route to the International Space Station, carrying a large structure that will form part of the ISS’s backbone. .
Astronauts will inspect the tear but Nasa says its not a big worry:
“So we’re pretty early in the process. It’s not a great deal of concern over it, right now, but, like I said, there’s a lot of work to be done, and we’ll do that in the coming days,” a mission leader said.
The mission was earlier set back by damage caused by hail to the insulating foam on the shuttle’s fuel tank.
This material has been a major concern for NASA since loose foam caused the Columbia disaster in 2003 in which seven crew died.