From Reuters: NASA admits that they can’t yet do an on-orbit repair of a hole the size of what brought down Columbia.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’ve not been able to come up with an over-wrap in this time frame that would allow us to fix a large hole,” said [Space Shuttle program manager Bill] Parsons. “Our expectation is that we’ll fix the tank and there won’t be anything like that we’ll have to deal with.“
Read: we’ll cross our fingers and pray.
Now, I know that things like this comprise what you might have to consider an acceptable risk.
Too bad that we can’t convince the American public that we’re gods or something. Apollo XIII convinced America that we were able to overcome anything. Sometimes, too much bad shit happens too fast to save these folks.
Not that we shouldn’t try to fix it, though, if we can.