The Anomaly Pages



In early June 1995, the June 8 launch of the space shuttle Discovery was delayed by NASA after 135 holes were discovered in the foam insulation, courtesy of 12-inch-long woodpeckers known as yellow-shafted flickers.

The insulation they damaged keeps ice from forming on the big, external fuel tank that holds cold, liquid forms of oxygen and hydrogen.

As of June 3, the birds had pecked away areas measuring up to a diameter of 4 inches. On June 2, NASA officials announced that the planned shuttle mission would be delayed at least until July 1995. The Associated Press recounted that "used plastic owl decoys, horns and tape-recorded hoots to scare off" the woodpeckers had been tried. None of them worked.

Repair efforts were hampered because not all the damage could be reached while the shuttle was on the launch pad. So the 184-foot-long spacecraft was taken back to the hangar.

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