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Space Shuttle Disaster

March 09, 2003

Egad! Having specialized in adhesive bonding since I was a graduate student at MIT (my first book on adhesives was published in 1954, and I have taught courses at UCLA and lectured at NASA on this subject), "Adhesive Problem With Columbia Tank Is Cited" (March 4) raised a bright red flag in my mind.

It is hard to believe that the bond of the foam to the epoxy primer was sensitive to time of drying; there is no excuse for using such a material. If the adhesion of the foam to the primer or the primer to the aluminum tank surface was at fault, then the process and the manufacturing shop environment were not well controlled. There have been problems of this nature in the past, but I thought we had learned those lessons long ago.

George Epstein

Los Angeles

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