Space Shuttle Damaged on the Launch Pad

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Who is handling safety/quality at NASA these days? This just brings to mind a painful-to-watch Simpsons episode involving ironic and painful crashing, cracking, breaking, and hurting.

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With the countdown for Discovery in its final hours, NASA was dealt a setback Tuesday when a window cover fell off the shuttle and damaged thermal tiles near the tail.

The plastic-and-foam cover on one of Discovery’s cockpit windows fell at the launch pad and struck a bulge in the fuselage that houses an orbital-maneuvering engine.

No workers were nearby when the window cover fell off and dropped about 60 feet, the space agency said. It was not immediately clear why the cover – which was held by tape – came loose.

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