|Post Mission Management Team Briefing - Aug. 4, 2005||
The Discovery astronauts will not need to make a fourth spacewalk to fix a thermal blanket near the commander's left window. The Mission Management Team made the decision today based on extensive analysis.
Thermal analysis earlier determined the blanket did not pose a danger of overheating. Aerodynamics engineers worked overnight Wednesday to determine the likelihood of the blanket coming off during descent and becoming a source of debris.
The team replicated the damage on three sample blankets and performed two wind tunnel tests at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The first test simulated a re-entry flight; the second test was set at a higher-than-expected velocity.
Both test results revealed the blanket would not likely come off in one piece. Instead, only small pieces and threads came loose, which do not pose a threat to the orbiter. Space Shuttle Deputy Program Manager Wayne Hale said if the blanket were to come off in one piece there is a relatively low chance that it would strike the orbiter.
"We've assessed this risk to the very best of our engineering knowledge," Hale said, "and we believe the vehicle is safe to fly and for re-entry."