exceptionally fragile (it could be broken by falling foam from the Shuttle’s external fuel tank)
Dreams of Mars
Mercurial Autumn
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Well, that’s not entirely fair. That foam is impacting the shuttle while it is traveling faster than the speed of sound. Even the lowest mass objects have a great deal of energy at these velocities. Simultaneously, this was not the only instance of a foam impact. When they reviewed footage from previous launches, they found evidence of impacts in a large number of them — but only one resulted in an accident.

This doesn’t excuse the failure, but you can’t claim that it wasn’t a freak accident either.

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