Shuttle’s Wings Will Detect When They’re Damaged

NASA is planning to embed special sensors into the wings of the space shuttle fleet that will detect when they’ve been damaged – it was a foam strike like this that led to the destruction of Columbia nearly a year ago. A member of the safety oversight panel said that the sensors would be able to detect a hit, but not the extent of the damage, so astronauts would still need to spacewalk outside the shuttle to inspect it. Installing these sensors isn’t a requirement for the shuttle’s return to flight, but NASA believes it can have the work done by September 2004 – when the first shuttle is expected to lift off again.