I was wondering if anyone knows more about this than I do and can possibly explain. . .
When Ron Dittemore discussed NASA's awareness of possible damage to the left wing of the shuttle, he said 1) that they did not believe the damage was threatening, and 2) that there was nothing that could be done anyway.
Yesterday, in my local newspaper (of all places) I read an Associated Press article explaining how a couple of years ago, when somewhat similar damage was suspected to have occurred to the right wing of Atlantis, the re-entry angle was modified. In short, the suttle was angled slightly to the right so the drag on the damaged wing was reduced (as the article said, imagine a football player turning away from a tackler so his injured knee isn't hit). I believe the process is called "thermal conditioning."
Here is the URL to the story: http://archive.columbiatribune.com/2...208News019.asp
Unfortunately, the diagrams are not included, but the article contains a more detailed description of the maneuver. I've tried to find other stories on this, but my local paper is the only place that I have found anything more than a passing reference to this story.
I'm not attempting to be a conspiracy nut or point the finger at anyone, but does anyone know why this wasn't considered in Columbia's situtation, given the possiblity of damage to the left wing? Perhaps it was too risky or deemed ineffective?