Foam Theory

What is the leading theory to explain Discovery's potentially disastrous loss of foam insulation at the long-anticipated RTF launch two months ago?

In an interview yesterday with AP,
Wayne Hale, manager of the space shuttle program, said workers may have accidentally cut or crushed the section of foam that broke off Discovery's fuel tank during its liftoff.

"This foam, which normally is not touched after it's applied, clearly was touched," he said.

If the worker error, as opposed to fatal design flaw, theory turns out to be correct, perhaps the two and a half years and billion plus dollars NASA spent on
post-Columbia fixes and safety (WaPo) may have proved fruitful after all.

And as to any worker accidentally touching the foam, you better believe that won't happen again.

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