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Space Shuttle Leading Edge Foam Impact Test Update

Press Release From: CAIB
Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2003

image The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) reported the initial foam impact test on the Enterprise’s fiberglass leading edge panel showed significant effects.

The foam struck the lower left wing portion of panel six causing the T-Seal between panels six and seven to lift and shift toward panel seven. This resulted in a 22-inch opening between panel six and the T-Seal. The width varied from the thickness of a dime to more than a quarter inch. The results were within the predicted impact analysis.

Foam details are listed below:
Weight: 1.67 pounds
Speed: 779 feet per second
Volume: 1200 cubic inches
Angle of incident: 20 degrees

The test was conducted at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

The CAIB has not reached any final conclusions and has not determined the cause of the loss of the shuttle and crew. The board's final report will be issued later this summer.

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