NASA announced today that a one and one half foot long clip used to hold insulation to the rudder’s speed brake has come loose from the shuttle Discovery, and that this is not a problem for the shuttle. "Orbiters have come back with those missing. It's just not a factor for entry," Mission Control told the shuttle crew. Discovery's crew had also reported seeing something sticking out from the left side of the shuttle's rudder. But Mission Control said it was probably just an optical illusion because of the rudder's angle and the lighting.
They’d better hope it’s an optical illusion, because if the shuttle’s rudder fails during re-entry or landing, NASA will have some ‘splaining to do. Especially to the crew’s next of kin.