This Is The Endeavor's Damaged Heat Tile

A damaged thermal tile on the shuttle Endeavor's heat shield has raised some eyebrows with the mission's management team. The tile will be inspected using the shuttle's robotic arm, outfitted with a high-res camera and a laser, for safety's sake.

The shuttle team has expressed that there's no real cause for panic here:

"There's nothing alarming here, and we're not really concerned," said LeRoy Cain, chairman of the shuttle mission's management team. He said the manoeuvre is being done out of an abundance of caution and will not disrupt the crew or its 16-day mission to the International Space Station.

Although the damage brings back painful memories of the damage that brought about the Columbia disaster back in 2003, NASA engineers are sure that the gouge—about the size of a deck of cards—won't be such a bother after the inspection is complete. [NYT Photo Credit: AP Photo/NASA]

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