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Another problem caused NASA officials to order an emergency spacewalk. Mission Specialist Steve Robinson dangles off an arm from the orbiting space station on Aug. 3, 2005, as he successfully removes protruding thermal protection gap fillers from the heat shield of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Robinson was able to remove the gap fillers by gently pulling them out. If left exposed, the pieces of ceramic-coated fabric could create intense heat during re-entry and put Discovery in jeopardy.
NASA scientists discovered that two ceramic coated-fabric gap fillers, which are used to prevent hot gas from seeping into gaps between Discovery's protective tiles, were sticking out about an inch from the shuttle's belly. They also observed the torn thermal blanket.