Jettison Cacoon!

Why can't NASA create a proper shield to install over all of the sensitive areas of the shuttle that could be jettisoned after it is in space? It would land in the ocean like the SRB's and be recycled. Think of it like gloves you would wear when handling barbwire, you take them off when you're done. (the heat resistent tiles appear to be like that stuff that is 99.99% air and .001% heatproof material. Very good at what it does, but very fragile too, structurally speaking)
Or maybe they could cover the outside of the shuttle with reverse magnifying glasses (concave) and check valves to bleed off the excess heat, so that upon re-entry the heat build-up would be turned to ice on impact with the hull.
Or, re do the shuttle so it is like the F117 or B2 stealth, so the heat can't find it.
Or, nail some turkey feathers on the shuttles ass so that it will go faster than the speed of light and therefore out run the heat before it gets a chance to *stick*. (hmm...when the shuttle lands the eventual shockwave that catches up would propel the shuttle into the next co-linear dimension, effectively causing the astronauts to die before they were born (so who was driving the shuttle then).....hmmmm....hate it when that happens.....)
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Because the heat shields are used on re-entry? That whole "not wanting to become a shooting star" thing.

I haven't been paying attention lately. Last I knew, which was a long time ago, the weakness in the system seemed to be more the attachment mechanism and the very fact of it being a great number of small tiles.
Anybody with a shred of credibility tells you different though, listen to them.

faster
How about shoot compressed air out of tiny holes in the bottom. Create a continually refreshed pillow. AND a handy air hockey surface.

Aside from the whole "tragedy" aspect, that could be handy/good.
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Doh. OK, I'm with the program.
Best guesses - 'cause they ain't thought of it yet; 'cause then the payload would be about a gerbil.
'course, I'd just rather see... stuff not fall off.
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They can.......but it is all about weight. They have sacrificed safety to increase payload....
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