I'm especially thinking of the loss of the Columbia due to damage from chunks of insulation that came off. I got to wondering, why is it there in the first place?
Of course it's needed while you are preparing for launch or you would get insane boil-off. However, why does it fly? Why isn't it designed to peel off as the rocket lifts off the pad? For the few minutes of flight the boil-off wouldn't be a big loss, especially since a lot of fuel is going to the engines which will negate at least some of the boil-off. I have a hard time picturing the boil-off being anywhere near as much of a penalty as the cost of lifting that insulation.