If the Silica Tiles are so fragile to impacts from foam off the External Tank at

the HIGH-Q and where extremely low pressures are caused when the SRBs peal away -

how much could a layer of some kind of ablative foam covering weigh if applied

over the tiles for impact protection during liftoff?

If the temperature of the Shuttle nose and leading edges is relative low during

climb, perhaps something similar to the 3-M leading edge tape I use on my

airplane (and on Air Force F-16s) to prevent bug and rock damage to my paint

would work. I'm sure there could be a way to cleanly strip this layer off if

there was concern as to how it would burn off during re-entry.

Alteratively, perhaps a spray-on laquer or other sealer could be sprayed over the

External Tank foam to contain the foam by spreading the load of any low- or

high-aerodynamic pressures acting on the foam - and perhaps make the tank even

more 'slippery' to reduce drag, which could offset the added weight.

As to the 'shims' and 'fillers' sticking out an inch or two, I cannot believe

that the high temperatures of re-entry would not burn or melt these things off

immediately. Geez - the whole outside of the Shuttle has plenty of holes and

gaps - look at the nose RCS thrusters several inches across! These filler things

are tiny!

I have to think you have more interesting things to spend hours sparring with the

reporters on this subject. Plus, you are splashing mud all over the hundreds or

thousands of engineers that have worked on this project over the past quarter


This is the most boring and frightening thing you could be discussing to people

areound the world that have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

Instead, how about "HEY! We have seven humans in SPACE - isn't that GREAT?"

If you had used Aerozine-50 and Nitrogen Tetroxide, you would not be worried

about some old foam!

Just my 2 worth from an old 'Rocket Scientist.'

Bill Howard, Capt USAF (ret)

Wing Electronics Engineer - Titan II

308th SMW 1971-1977

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