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The tiles on the underside of the STS Orbiter had gaps between them to allow for the frame underneath to shift slightly. However, if the gaps were too large fillers were used.

What controls the acceptable size of a gap, and is it related to the depth of the gap?

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  • $\begingroup$ One can surmise several driving factors, among them being the location of the subject gap wrt the Orbiter's external surface (what will be the max localized temperatures/pressures encountered during reentry?) and the nature of the Orbiter's structure underlying said gap (critical structure vs. "benign" cavities)...these factors are meant to merely be "discussion starters." $\endgroup$ – Digger Mar 2 at 16:12

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