spacenews.lu has first hand photos from their on site photographer of the concern NASA Mission Management Teams are working through after discovering a 10 feet thin strip of RTV sealant about 0.2 inches thick which Hurricane Nicole winds blew off on the east side of the Orion spacecraft while it remained out on the launch pad as the hurricane came ashore on Thursday November 10th.
The two concerns discussed by the MMT team in last nights mission briefing one is if more of the RTV is “liberated” or delaminates while in flight how much aero drag will this produce on the vehicle. The second concern is how much heat would occur from increased friction due to this area being an exposed indentation and not a smooth surface any longer. A third concern if more RTV delaminates in flight and came off what could it damage down stream on the vehicles exterior surface.
NASA will have meetings today to see if they can continue to push for a two hour launch window on Wednesday Morning November 16th at 1:04 AM to 3:04 AM EST with a 90% change for excellent weather during the launch window.
One other issue of concern was a bad data port on the tail mast assembly which teams are trying to repair now but NASA has redundancy in this area and it will not be a show stopping launch issue. This data port does not fly with the vehicle it is only for ground support monitoring.
All mission manages polled before last nights NASA briefing occurred agreed to push ahead with launch operations for the attempt this Wednesday while working on these two open items.
Article and photos by Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu & space-news.es