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Technicians Ready Test for Shuttle Thermal Blanket
The thermal blanket that folded up on Atlantis during launch.

Image right: The astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis noticed a small tear in the thermal blanket on the port side Orbital Maneuvering System pod soon after reaching orbit. Although the piece of blanket folded up slightly, it is not expected to cause problems during the orbiter's return to Earth. Nonetheless, NASA wanted tests to determine the impact of the anomaly. Photo credit: NASA
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graphic shows OMS pod blanket repair

Image right: A computer-generated artist's rendering shows a spacewalker repairing the thermal blanket. At the beginning of the mission's third spacewalk, astronaut Danny Olivas, working from the end of the Atlantis robot arm, will tuck the blanket back into position and then staple it back into position on the left orbital maneuvering system pod. Photo credit: NASA TV

Workers prepare a thermal blanket for testing.
Image left: United Space Alliance workers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida assemble squares of thermal blankets to test in wind tunnels. The test sections duplicate the area on Atlantis where a thermal blanket folded up slightly. The testing is being performed in a wind tunnel at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller
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A pair of United Space Alliance workers assemble panels for testing the thermal blankets.

Image right: Each test square uses three heat shield tiles and two blankets that simulate the conditions of the area on Atlantis where the thermal blanket folded up. Workers built 22 test articles. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller
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A United Space Alliance worker prepares a shuttle thermal blanket for testing.

Image left: A United Space Alliance worker assembles a square of thermal blanket material that will be attached to a test sample. The blanket material is used on areas of the orbiters that do not experience the most intense heating of atmospheric entry. The blankets have several layers of different fabrics made to handle high temperatures. They are woven with thread made from silica. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller
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The section of Endeavour's OMS pod is compared to that seen on Atlantis.

Image right: Because NASA's three orbiters are identical, the two on the ground can be studied for clues about the thermal blanket anomaly aboard Atlantis. Endeavour's left side OMS pod is covered with tiles and thermal blankets just as Atlantis uses. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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Steven Siceloff
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center