As we all know, the Discovery space shuttle blasted off into space from the Kennedy Space Centre on Tuesday and successfully made it into space. However during the launch, the onboard cameras recorded large pieces of debris falling off the space shuttle's external fuel tank. Following this news, the BBC reported the following:
Nasa has grounded its shuttle fleet after large pieces of foam debris peeled off Discovery's external fuel tank during Tuesday's launch.
Although none is thought to have hit the orbiter, two shielding tiles on Discovery do appear to be damaged.
Managers described the findings as "unacceptable" and said other orbiters would not be safe to fly until changes were made to the launcher system.
"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," said Bill Parsons.
"I am personally disappointed that this happened, but it didn't harm the orbiter and we learned something," the space shuttle programme manager added.
Well, I'm not a rocket scientist, but I have a solution - don't build rockets with foam. If I were building something that I was expecting to travel at over 3000 mph (4600 kph), I certainly wouldn't build it with foam. According to an article by the Washington Post...
The foam ripped off in an area known as a protuberance air load (PAL) ramp, a 36.5-foot-long triangular wedge that acts as a windbreak to protect the tank's cables and pressurization lines from being ripped off by air pressure in flight.
I know they use some fancy type of super dense heat resistant foam, but if we equate it to your average sponge - think about how easy it is to tear one in two. Now the foam on the rocket would be much more dense and stronger, but so is the force and heat caused by the launch.
You would have thought NASA would have learnt from the Columbia accident which was caused by a chunk of foam breaking off the fuel tank during launch.