Yes, NASA finally admits that it has to do something about those thingies hanging off the underbelly of the Discovery:
“In the end it came down to be a really simple decision,” said Wayne Hale, NASA’s deputy shuttle program manager, during a briefing here at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). “We came to the conclusion that we don’t know enough to really feel good about this, so therefore the remedy is easy and we ought to go exercise the remedy.”
One has to wonder if the delay in this official word of this "simple decision" originates in NASA management's ignorance or obstinance. That is to say, is the cause management's famous lack of technical training or its simple unwillingness to admit the embarrassing truth?
CBS news article says
NASA says the gap filler is not related to the debris that flew off Discovery during liftoff. The problem may not be as serious as the heat shield hole that doomed Columbia shuttle, but for NASA, this is no time to take risks.
So we have multiple problems here. I hope the repair isn't simply "doing something" for CYA.
UPDATE: Duncan Maxwell Anderson writes that removing freon from the adhesive to protect the environment has created the "popcorn effect" of loose tiles: The Shuttle's Achilles Heel: Ideology. Additional interesting commentary:
It is impossible to integrate the contradictory. To whatever extent an engineer is forced to base his decisions, not on the realities of science but on the arbitrary, unpredictable, and often impossible demands of a politicized system, he is stymied. Yet this politicizing is an unavoidable consequence of governmental control over scientific research and development.