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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Debris hits
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 16:56:55 GMT

In article <>,
Sparks and Dr. Jules <> wrote:
>"Inspections of Discovery's underside revealed about 136 debris hits to
>the black thermal protective tiles with about 42 hits measuring 1 inch or
>just wondering if these were small meteorite hits while in orbit or while
>in reentry...

Most of those will have been hits during launch and landing, actually.
There is often quite a bit of flying debris during launch, in particular.

>I wonder how large an object the orbitor can handle being hit with and and
>what kind of protection the orbitor has to protect itself from these

An object a millimeter across probably wouldn't do anything drastic.  An
object a centimeter across could be big trouble.  I don't know just how
the situation looks in between.

About the only thing the orbiter can do for protection is to try to point
its vulnerable areas -- the windows in particular, and the upper surface
in general -- away from trouble.  When the orbiter deploys a satellite
with an upper stage, for example, it's routine to point the orbiter's
belly at the satellite at upper-stage ignition time.
Mass-market software technology has |  Henry Spencer
been deteriorating, not improving.  |      (aka

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