The insulation is still there, below the white paint. NASA found out, that painting it white did not really improve things, especially the formation of ice and debris, and that removing it allows lifting more payload into Orbit.
No tire blew so far on a landing of the space shuttle. Even if it would happen, it would be different on the Shuttle as on an airliner, as the Shuttle has a more sophisticated autopilot. The shuttle can balance on just two wheels for during landing, reducing the damage, without leaving the runway, at least until speed dropped too low for the Delta wings to reduce the load on the damaged tire.
But two Auxiliary Power Units, which provide hydraulic pressure to the Space Shuttle, caught fire and exploded during the landing of STS-9. But that did only cause small internal damage.
They found out during the first landings on the Shuttle Landing Facility (the long runway in KSC), that the surface was to rough and increased the wear on the tires, resulting in the surface getting smoothed. Later flights also relied on the drag chute for slowing down, further reducing the loads on the tires.
· 1 decade ago