Kennedy Space Center, Florida -- News reports citing NASA's post-launch press conference said the space shuttle Endeavour suffered some foam loss when it blasted off from Kennedy Space Center early on 8 Feb 2010.
According to reports, NASA's associate administrator, Bill Gerstenmaier, said a 1/4-inch thick, foot-long piece of foam was recorded breaking away from the external tank around 2 minutes after launch but did not hit the shuttle. More foam loss was recorded around 8 minutes after launch, but further details are not available.
NASA uses insulating polyurethane foam to keep the space shuttle's fuel tanks of liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks at the right temperature, and prevent ice formation. In recent years, NASA has experienced problems with falling foam causing damage to the shuttle -- as happened in 2003 when a chunk of falling foam is believed to have damaged the wing of the space shuttle Columbia during take-off, eventually killing all seven astronauts as the shuttle broke up on re-entry. (RD)