Friday, July 29, 2005

I'll Relax When Discovery's Crew Is Safely Back Home.

"And this is the best that you cou - that the government, the *U.S. government* could come up with? I mean, you're NASA for crying out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You're the guys that are thinking shit up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up!"
-Harry Stamper, Armageddon

NASA, who undoubtedly employ some of the smartest people in the world, spent the past two years convincing themselves they had fixed the falling debris problem that subsequently led to the Columbia disaster. John Shannon (shuttle flight operations and integration manager)said that NASA now has no idea what is causing this problem, or how to fix it, adding that he has "200 analysts working on it".

TWO HUNDRED really smart people and they have NO idea how to fix it.

Here's an idea. Instead of having Boeing continuously upgrade the shuttles (and I use the plural overly aware it now means only two) in an attempt to extend their life, face the fact that the shuttles are obsolete. Space travel is a risky enough business without purposely pushing your luck; relying on luck is not a comforting prospect when you consider that it was ONLY luck that debris that hit the Discovery during it's ascent did not (as NASA now says) seriously damage the heat tiles, as happened with Columbia in 2003.

I think (IMHO) NASA needs to consider either bumping up plans for the new Crew Exploration Vehicle or join efforts with Europe and Russia in producing the Kliper. Certainly before the advent of the planned Moon visits in 2008 they should have a reliable way of reaching the International Space Station.

I also think they should consider parking Discovery at the ISS until they are sure it is safe to bring her home.

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