In 2003 after the breakup of Columbia during re-entry, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board conducted tests at Southwest Research Institute , which used an air gun to shoot foam blocks of similar size, mass and speed to that which struck Columbia at a test structure which mechanically replicated the orbiter wing leading edge. They removed a section of fiberglass leading edge from Enterprise 's wing to perform analysis of the material and attached it to the test structure, then shot a foam block at it.  While the leading edge was not broken as a result of the test, which took place on May 29, 2003, the impact was enough to permanently deform a seal and leave a thin gap 22 inches (56 cm) long.    Since the strength of the reinforced carbon–carbon (RCC) on Columbia is "substantially weaker and less flexible" than the test section from Enterprise , this result suggested that the RCC would have been shattered.  A section of RCC leading edge from Discovery was tested on June 6, to determine the effects of the foam on a similarly aged leading edge, resulting in a three-inch ( cm) crack on panel 6 and cracking on a "T"-shaped seal between panels 6 and 7.   On July 7, using a leading edge from Atlantis and focused on panel 8 with refined parameters stemming from the Columbia accident investigation, a second test created a ragged hole approximately 16 by 16 in (41 by 41 cm) in the RCC structure.   The tests clearly demonstrated that a foam impact of the type Columbia sustained could seriously breach the protective RCC panels on the wing leading edge. 
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Your character Alex leaves America for Italy. Perhaps a temporary adventure… but then again maybe not. We see a lot of young people today, like Alex, wishing to live and work overseas. Why the attraction to leave America for Italy or elsewhere? The attraction is the simple glamor of being in a place that is unlike our daily and oftentimes monotonous environment. We seek an escape from a life of working, working, working; to hopefully live a decent life. In Italy, we see how life can be fulfilling. Italians go to work too of course, but the work does not dictate their lives. They appreciate the quality of life – the food, the people, the surroundings, and the air. All of it makes Italy a desirable place to live.