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The other side of that coin is that, if the wheel wells are part of the pressurized interior of the shuttle, the doors on them have to have a seal that holds up during re-entry, then lets go to lower the landing gear, right?

Sounds like a tough problem to solve either way.

If you read some of the press, one issue under scrutiny is if the back-up explosive charges that are meant to open landing gear doors and deploy the gear in the event of a hydraulic failure (similar to jet pilot ejector systems I understand) let go as it re-entered.
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