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Space Science

107 Cameras to Scan Discovery for Damage 261

Posted by Hemos
from the scanning-for-damage dept.
neutron_p writes "We already know that NASA has prepared for space shuttle rescue mission if a crisis arises during Discovery's return to flight. NASA wants to avoid any risk, that's why they also installed 107 cameras which will film and photograph the orbiter's first two minutes of ascent from every angle scanning for pieces of insulation foam or ice fall off during the launch and strike the shuttle, the kind of damage that doomed its predecessor Columbia. Cameras will be installed around the launch pad and at distances of 6 to 60 kilometers (some 3.5 to 35 miles) away, as well as on board of two airplanes and on the shuttle itself."
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107 Cameras to Scan Discovery for Damage

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  • American miles? (Score:3, Informative)

    by busman (136696) * on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:05AM (#13032985)
    I don't know where the article got their conversions from but I sure hope it wasn't from NASA!

    6km is approx 3.7 miles not 3.5 and
    60km is 37 miles and not 35
  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:06AM (#13032992)
    What are they gonna' do? Abort after it's 100' off the pad?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jaxdahl (227487) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:10AM (#13033044)
      Then they could ditch aboard the ISS (which is where they're going) then take a Soyuz capsule back to earth.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Skellbasher (896203)
        The Soyuz capsule only has a capcity of 3, so there would be no way to get the entire crew back without launching an additional shuttle or Soyuz.
      • Aside from the capacity issue raised by the sibling, taking the capsule from the ISS would leave the ISS crew stranded.. not exactly a desirable situation.
    • Kill engines, and push forward on the stick! Flop it over on it's belly!
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Gardner (850877)
      Funny you should say that because they probably would abort, albeit not 100' off the pad. There are two ascent (pre orbital) abort modes.

      The first, RTLS (Return To Launch Site Abort Mode) [nasa.gov] can be initiated upto T+4mintues20 and involves an early ET (External Tank) seperation followed by a powered phase to bleed of excess fuel and a glide phase which see's the orbiter return to KSC at approximately T+25minutes.

      The second is the TAL (Transatlantic Abort Landing) [nasa.gov]. This can be initiated in the event of crit

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by uberdave (526529)
      The shuttle has several abort modes:
      • RTLS - Return to Launch Site
      • TAL - Trans Atlantic Landing (European and African landing sites)
      • AOA - Abort Once Around
      • ATO - Abort To Orbit
      So, if there is a problem, and they find it early enough, they have options.
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:09AM (#13033031) Journal
    If it explodes, we'll have enough angles to recreate an exact 3d model of what happend. COOL. If it doesn't, we still have enough to create a nice 3d model of the launch. This will push the wave of new 3d tv's... hmm... getting ahead of myself again.
    • My prediction is that one of the cameras will break off during launch and strike a critical tile. Causing complete destruction and a loss of all 107 cameras. Then there will be 214 cameras on the next shuttle launch just for redundancy/backup purposes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's easy to say it's a good thing. Especially when it's not you that is having their privacy invaded. But, imagine if you were the shuttle. Would you really like being scrutinized by 10 cameras?
  • Bullet time (Score:5, Funny)

    by anandpur (303114) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:10AM (#13033052)
    Bullet time is a concept introduced in recent films and computer games whereby the passage of time is displayed as hyper slow or frozen moments in order to allow observe imperceptually fast events such as flying bullets.

    In The Matrix, the camera path was pre-designed using computer-generated visualizations as a guide. Cameras were arranged on a track and aligned through a laser targeting system, forming a complex curve through space. The cameras were then triggered at extremely close intervals, so the action continued to unfold, in extreme slow-motion, while the viewpoint moved.

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullet-time [wikipedia.org]
    • Actually most of the camera effects were done with many cameras at the same time ... then they had to paint out the cameras that were in the shot.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:11AM (#13033066)

    Let's say the cameras spot something fishy, like another strike to the tiles during liftoff.

    What next?

    • I read yesterday from Finnish newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat) that NASA has some sort of gluegun to fix spots that are missing tiles
    • The other question is, are they just fixing the last problem? OK, great, wonderful, now we can watch out for debris. But what if the bigger problem is that the design is just inherently more dangerous than it needs to be, so now, instead of the O-rings or tiles failing, something else will go catastrophically wrong?
    • by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:49AM (#13033427) Homepage
      Let's say the cameras spot something fishy, like another strike to the tiles during liftoff.

      What next?

      NASA reviews the tapes and assesses whether or not the point of failure is avoidable or is an inherant flaw of the shuttle system.
    • Damn moderators, they keep marking legitimate questions as Flamebait... Grow up!
    • by jpellino (202698) on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:43AM (#13033960)
      1. They will be spacewalking to test exterior repair, if it works, they can fix it on orbit.

      2. They're going to be visiting the station - this mission is reportedly rigged so that if something really bad is found, the can stay on station until another shuttle can be launched.

      • 1. They will be spacewalking to test exterior repair, if it works, they can fix it on orbit.

        I was under the impression that space-walking couldn't actually get them close enough to most of the surface of the shuttle.

        Do they really have the ability to repair anything? Or is this the contingency plan they hope to someday have?
  • by jurt1235 (834677) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:11AM (#13033068) Homepage
    Or maybe even more, anything which comes loose, will be discussed into great detail.

    Anyway, rule of thumb: Great progress comes with risk. With the space shuttle, which about 20 years ago was great progress, the risk stays since there are no real developments.
    The only question is: Is the spaceprogram worth the risk of flying with the space shuttle?

    I personally think it is. I regret the attitude after the accident were complete risk aversion was shown. I would have gotten into the next space shuttle (err, can not pay for it, so they have to offer), and I am sure I would have returned safely (chance less then 1% on a deadly accident). The chance that the foam which caused this came loose and causes the damage is extremely small. Pieces of the shuttle fell off before (especially the ceramic tiles, lost a few per X flights), without problems.
    • I personally think it is. I regret the attitude after the accident were complete risk aversion was shown.

      Indeed, this is the reason that the US is really no longer in the manned-spaceflight business. Only the Chinese have any chance of setting foot on Mars. Americans have become just too pussy.

      (chance less then 1% on a deadly accident)

      It must be around 2%, with two disasters in 113 flights. Of course, the next catastrophic failure will have some different cause.
      • And quite frankly, there's no reason to send americans or anyone else. The only reason for the "space race" was to develop technologies that could be used for ICBMs.

        Since no one wants to attack mars, no one needs that level of technology.
    • A beurocratic nightmare. The Airforce wanted some kind of crazy orbial bomber, but once the shuttle was done they washed their hands of it. Shuttle missions cost like 100x what they were supposed to.
    • I disagree with the assertion that the Shuttle was "great progress," even measured by standards 20 years ago. The Saturn V was "great progress," and the Shuttle's capabilities are a huge step backwards - trapped in LEO, 1/2 the payload capacity (118,000kg versus 47,000kg,) etc. Here's a concise table of launch vehicle comparisons [averillpark.net]. Note that there aren't many GEO entries, and all that have that capability are the expendable-type. There's a technical reason for that ... actually many.

      Then there's the po
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:13AM (#13033095) Homepage Journal
    NASA has always had a debris inspection and launch anomaly review team that reviews taped views of the launches. It was this team that saw the fatal foam hunk strike Columbia's wing as well as note the O-ring failures on Challenger.

    It will be good to have more cameras, but in a sense this violates a NASA truism that indicates not to worry about an issue of which you have absolutely no control over. Given the political climate the cameras are a must, but there will be more non-NASA people looking and fretting and writing their congressman over things that are routine in truth, and even those congressmen will be eyeing things that they have little experience to interpret properly and waste taxpayer dollars debating why ice must form on the outside of the ET ("Because it just does, damn it! Can we go back to flying now?")
    • It will be good to have more cameras, but in a sense this violates a NASA truism that indicates not to worry about an issue of which you have absolutely no control over.

      If there's something that could hinder the shuttle's ability to land safely (but doesn't prevent them from docking at the ISS), couldn't they hold the shuttle at the ISS until they can fix the problem or figure out another way to get the astronauts home safely?

      This assumes that the cameras could catch something that the normal review te

  • by Excelsior (164338) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:14AM (#13033102)
    that's why they also installed 107 cameras which will film and photograph...from every angle

    Humanity is blessed to gain the technology advances pioneered by CBS's Big Brother.
    • They also installed 50 cams inside to capture what happens when astronauts stop being polite, and start getting real. These cams will be free with the exception of the toilet camera, which requires a $19/month subscription.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:15AM (#13033116)
    I'm all for safety of space missions. The life of astronauts is as important as anyone's is.

    Call me insensitive, but here's what I have to say. This is NOT a commercial airline where pax expect reasonable safety & expect 100% safety. Space exploration is a risky business. Sometime we have to accept the risks & challenges for some new things. The seafaring discoveres like Columbus & Vasco Da Gama wouldn't have achieved what they did if they didn't accept a single risk factor.

    My main point in saying this is that halting shuttles had for 3 years has already had a devastating effect on space exploration, what with budget cuts in NASA & cash-strapped ex-soviet space industry.

    Don't get me wrong, I want Astronauts/Cosmonauts/Taikanauts to be as safe as possible. But sometimes we have to bite the bullet.

    Please try to understand what I'm saying, don't just jump to conclusions & say I'm insensitive. All I'm saying is that in this excess emphasis on safety has caused immense damage already to space science.
    • Heh? Flying pointless LEO manned missions to the pointless space station does nothing to advance space exploration...having the shuttle fleet grounded has had no "devastating" effect on space exploration...
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:18AM (#13033145)
    Going to space is dangerous, but beneficial. As soon as people realize that, we'll be much better off.

    107 cameras seems a bit like overkill and perhaps an attempt to fix a "one in a million" problem that has already occurred.

    Could you imagine if the western part of the United States was settled by people that needed 107 cameras pointed at their wagons to make sure that a wheel wasn't falling off before they left? Some people have an adventurous spirit. Let them adventure. Sometimes they die. Sucks, but true.
    • Exactly. As far as I see it the Shuttle has met it's design goals, one percent failure. Columbia was that failure, stuff happens. Challenger was just an incredibly stupid loss that occoured because politics and beurocracy won out over sound engineering. While it can be argued that Challenger was a failure of the Shuttle program it had little to do with the act of getting into and out of space. Even after the Columbia accident there isn't one person on a Shuttle flight crew that wouldn't go up again, they kn
    • I think describing a foam insulation damage event as a "one in a million" problem cannot be supported by the facts.

      I must note that there have only been about 100 shuttle flights. So the odds of foam damage were most likely a lot closer to 1% than 0.0001%.

      I suppose that Rei will be around later to tell you all about how debris falloff is a common problem with rocket launches. As the shuttle orbiter is both fragile and mounted on the side, the possibility of debris damage should not have been ignored. I
      • So the guy that plays the lottery once and wins that one time had a life-long probablity of winning the lottery of 1?

        The odds are what they are. Odds are that the probablity of the foam thing is LOWER than 1% are pretty high.

        How much lower than 1% is a pure guess.

        I agree though, they should stick the orbiter at the top like other vehicles do. Not on the side like it is.
        • The odds that the odds are lower than 1% are reasonable. However, the odds that they are one in a million, or even one in a thousand, are fairly low. If the odds are 0.1% we would have only a 9.5% chance of such an event in a hundred launches. If the odds were one in ten thousand the 100-launch odds are less than 1%.

          We know the odds for the lottery, but suppose I offer you a game with unknown odds. Let's see... you win! Do you think you can speculate on the odds for this game?
    • by ericspinder (146776) on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:02AM (#13033542) Journal
      Could you imagine if the western part of the United States was settled by people that needed 107 cameras pointed at their wagons to make sure that a wheel wasn't falling off before they left?
      1. Wagons don't cost 2 million each.
      2. When a wagon wheel falls off 7 people don't fry
      3. You can feel a problem with a wagon wheel just from the ride. In a space shuttle you don't know there is a problem until it's way to late.
      4. if you think you have a problem with a wagon wheel, you jump out and take a look. An EVA is a major use of resourses, both in flight and on the ground.
      5. A foam strike isn't the only thing that a camera would catch. Remember, the first indications of what when wrong with Challenger came from video.
      IMHO, the space shuttle's biggest problem was a design which said that the thing needed to have wings.
      • Remember, the first indications of what when wrong with Challenger came from video.

        IIRC, NASA was warned about the problems with o-rings and low temperatures. While the first indicators to the public might have been the video, surely there were some people who immediately knew what caused the event.
    • 107 cameras seems a bit like overkill and perhaps an attempt to fix a "one in a million" problem that has already occurred.

      Cameras don't fix problems. They just see them (sometimes).

      Like the Patriot Act, this doesn't solve anything; it just perpetuates the illusion that the problem was with data collection. In the WTC attacks and the Columbia break-apart (I refuse to use the term "disaster" or "accident"), it was the decision-making process and management. In both situations, there was plenty of evi

    • You might want to add to you analogy that due there are now only 3 wagons left.
  • by Nytewynd (829901) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:20AM (#13033165)
    This will help them figure out what went wrong if something does go wrong, but it's hardly helpful to the crew onboard.

    I doubt there is any way to eject under those circumstances. The amount of Gs on the crew pretty much prevents them from moving, and the amount of time between "Uh oh" and KABOOM!!! isn't exactly long enough to do anything.

    Even if there was a way to eject, it would depend on where the problem took place. 100 feet off the ground maybe you live. In the stratosphere, I don't think your chances are very good. Also, jumping out of the shuttle into a giant plume of fire might be a little more than your body can handle.
    • The cameras aren't there to prevent a catastrophe during liftoff. They're there to spot an event that might cause a catastrophic reentry. And if they do, there's plenty of time before reentry when the astronauts will not be immobilized by acceleration and might be able to do something to fix the problem.
  • Seems Redundant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:25AM (#13033212)
    Not that redundancy is a bad thing.

    But if they are going to snap pictures of the belly at the ISS, isn't that enough to determine if there are cracks in the heat shielding?

    This system will tell us when, where and how the damage occured. But then this is something they should have had all along.
    • But then this is something they should have had all along.

      Yes it is. And cars should have had seatbelts all along. And airbags. Commercial pilots should have flown in locked cabins. Airport security should've been tighter, etc, etc, ad nauseum. The sad truth is that sometimes we learn more from the "bad" lesson than the "good" ones. The real danger is when we get too scared to stop trying any more. Full credit to the shuttle team for doing their best to patch the leak and get back out there again.
  • Flashback (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paiute (550198) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:26AM (#13033221)
    One month after 9/11, I was in Logan, waiting to board a full-of-fuel 767 to London. The airport was crowded with uniformed police and troops from about five different organizations. They were packing firepower enough to defend East Boston from invasion by any nation smaller than France. And yet they stayed on the ground and I went into the air. This story gives me the same feeling: No matter how many cameras/guns there are on the ground, if it goes bad in flight, you're still fucked.

    I realize there may have been air marshalls on board, still I would have felt better if one of the state troopers had lent me his Glock for the trip.

    • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:14AM (#13033667)
      still I would have felt better if one of the state troopers had lent me his Glock for the trip.

      I wouldn't.
    • I realize there may have been air marshalls on board, still I would have felt better if one of the state troopers had lent me his Glock for the trip. Blowing a hole in the skin of an airplane is really a good way to prevent it from crashing. Really. Seriously, what were you worried about before 9/11?
      • Blowing a 9mm hole in the skin of an airplane will cause nothing more dangerous than a draft. The plane will not magically explode, nor will the passengers run out of oxygen before the pilot can descend.
      • Seriously, what were you worried about before 9/11?

        Before 9/11 I was worried about being one of the 30,000 killed in car crashes every year in the USA. But after that fateful day, I am now worried about the exact same thing.

      • Blowing a hole in the skin of an airplane is really a good way to prevent it from crashing.

        Come on, this is a myth. Are you seriously worried that a tiny little hole is spontaneously going to make the plane crash? The plane exhausts air much faster than this through its normal air recirculation. You wouldn't even know anything had happened unless you could actually see the hole. Even with 1/3 of its roof torn off [answers.com] Aloha Airlines flight 243 remained airworthy and performed an emergency landing.

    • by tgd (2822)
      If someone wants to invade and take over East Boston, I say let 'em!

      At least they might stop raising tolls though the tunnel!
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:30AM (#13033257)
    How do the Russians launch their vehicles one after another without lots of funfare but with almost success? There have been almost 2,300 successful Soyuz launches and just 11 Soyuz failures ever...! That's a success rate that cant be beat! To make matters worse, they do it cheaper too!
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:05AM (#13033568) Homepage
      Nobody needs to ask the Russians - to students of space issues the answers are well known.
      How do the Russians launch their vehicles one after another without lots of funfare but with almost success?
      By having an extremely simple booster with low-to-modest performance and vast amounts of margin built in. This means pretty reliable, but it means not much room for growth and not much in the way of accomplishments. (What accomplishments they do have are because of the larger, and much less reliable and more expensive Proton - not the Soyuz.)
      There have been almost 2,300 successful Soyuz launches and just 11 Soyuz failures ever...!
      You have to be careful there - the Russian have two spacecraft that they call Soyuz, don't confuse the two.

      The Soyuz booster has indeed flown 2000-odd time, with a sucess rate of 98%. Oddly enough, thats the same sucess rate that the US has achieved.

      The Soyuz capsule on the other hand, has flown only 90-odd times, and has had significant (life threatening) accidents no fewer then 8 times, plus two fatal accidents, plus about 8 loss-of-mission accidents.

      That's a success rate that cant be beat!
      That's a sucess rate no better than the US, and from some angles far worse. It's a sucess rate that in any other industry would cause headlines in 72-point type on a daily basis. (If 1% of 747 flights failed, there's be something like 20-30 747 crashes daily.)
      To make matters worse, they do it cheaper too!
      Umm... Maybe. Nobody knows how much a Soyuz (booster or capsule) flight actually costs. There's no direct conversion - and the prices they've quoted/charged have varied widely. No doubt not having to amortize the cost of your infrastructure helps, as does paying your engineers wages equivalent to your average third-world Nike sweat shop worker.
  • Gee, I hope none of those cameras they've installed on the shuttle itself come loose and hit anything.
    • That's why they've installed these "tiles" -- if a camera comes loose and hits them, NASA can reconstruct what went wrong by studying the impacts on the tiles. For some reason, though, NASA has rejected my proposal for an infinite regression of tile/camera layers, so that one can always figure out what went wrong. Some of the layers are arranged up to 35 miles away...
    • They're pretty sure that the ice will hold the camera to the shuttle just fine.

      -Adam
  • It should allow scientists to detect the slightest crack in the shuttle's thermal protection, according to Bob Page, the official in charge of the imaging system.

    Well, get ready because here comes MJ12, Daedalus, etc...
  • Safety.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by UMhydrogen (761047) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:35AM (#13033307) Homepage
    Um, I think you people have completely missed the whole point of the safety precautions in this new space shuttle launch. When the shuttle launches they have their backup shuttle waiting should something go wrong. If something goes wrong, Discovery like, where the shuttle makes it to the ISS but can't return to earth, they still have the backup shuttle to launch and bring them home.

    The point of the cameras is to determine if something broke on the shuttle. If something breaks the shuttle will not return to Earth. The cameras aren't there to say "OMG, SOMETHING WENT WRONG, ABORT." The cameras are there to determine if something went wrong and if so, to send the backup shuttle into space to return the astornauts safely to earth.

    • If something breaks the shuttle will not return to Earth.

      Wrong. If something breaks and the shuttle is determined too dangerous to fly home, it will "return" to the part of the earth that is called "ocean" sans humans.

      It is likely that it would do so under power with all sorts of telemetry (more than what they had in the past) so that as much useful data could be obtained from the failure as possible. As long as it doesnt break up over the ocean, it may even be recovered in large measure for phys
    • It is possible to abort the launch [space-shuttle.com] and return to Florida. Though it would be risky.
  • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Monday July 11, 2005 @10:53AM (#13033466) Homepage
    Despite all these measures, there will likely be another shuttle disaster in the future. Unfortunately, certain critical problems aren't identified until failure occurs.

    After Challenger ... no more O-ring problems.
    After Columbia ... no more foam problems.

    So what'll be next?

    My guess is that they'll never see it coming, whatever it is. NASA is too focused on making sure the foam doesn't cause another problem. However, the foam was fine for 20+ years and the chances of the same exact thing happening again are infinitely smaller than the chances of a new problem occurring.

    So, here's what they'll say when the next explosion happens ... "Well, thank god it wasn't the foam or those darn o-rings again".

    • Or they will just limit the launch window again.

      After Challenger... No more winter launches.
      After Columbia... No more night launches.

      After the next one they will only launch at 1:37 PM on the second Saturday of the month after the first full moon.
      • After Challenger... No more winter launches.

        Wait ... what? Who said there are no more winter launches? First of all "winter" in Florida is pretty much meaningless. It's still warmer than "summer" in Canada. Those O-rings froze because of overnight frost, plus the fact that they were on a giant tube of liquid hydrogen and oxygen. They have launched in the winter since Challenger, and according to every schedule I could find, they plan on doing it again, too. They may be a little more cautious about c
  • Its time that NASA started investing in more robots. I can see EVA robots doing these checks on all spacecraft in the future, no matter what country the spacecraft has launched from. It only makes sense. I'm sure that such robots can be much more robust and cost effective than a human EVA to check heat shield tiles and other items critical to a safe landing, and high tech scanners, such as are used to check for stress cracks in commercial airliners could be the basis for such robots. Geez, if you spend $500
  • It's not a technical issue. Those can be solved. Before Challenger blew up, engineers voiced concerns about it being to cold to launch, but management ignored it. When foam hit Columbia, engineers wanted the wing inspected, but again management ignored it. If it weren't for wanting to save Hubble, I'd say retire the Shuttle now. I know the ISS is only about half built, but would completing it give us a better scientific return on our investment?

    You gotta hand it to our astronauts. Even with bad management
    • Sounds more like it's time to retire management than time to retire the shuttle! Seems like that would have at least saved the Challenger, and possibly the Columbia as well (although I'm not as sure they could have figured out anything to do in the latter case).

      I do agree that we could probably do better than the shuttle, but it still sounds like you're trying to blame it for problems that aren't really its fault. And designing and building something better is a damn expensive proposition! I'd rather g
  • Contrast (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:47AM (#13033997)

    107 camera's to keep tiles from breaking of sounds like using duct-tape to cure software problems with your bionic arm.
    It just seems to shush the minds of those not wanting to awknowledge the risks involved with strapping 7 people on a rocket.

    Or did they recently sign with FOX?

  • No pain, no gain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paul.dunne (5922) on Monday July 11, 2005 @11:51AM (#13034034)
    "NASA wants to avoid any risk"

    Well, that's the death of the US manned spaceflight effort right there. The strange thing is, I'll bet the astronauts themselves would willingly take risks; after all, as Americans, they are in a sense descendants of one of the greatest risk-takers ever.

    Oh, well: maybe China can do better.

    • "NASA wants to avoid any risk"

      Well, that's the death of the US manned spaceflight effort right there. The strange thing is, I'll bet the astronauts themselves would willingly take risks


      Stop right there, it isn't fair to blame NASA for this. I'll bet the administration is just as keen as the astronauts to explore the vast reaches of space, regardless of the risks. But NASA isn't financially self-sustaining. They require funding from congresscritters. And congress is elected by Joe and Jane Sixpack, wh
  • ...you already lost a shuttle this way.

    This is quickly becoming my biggest pet peeve: knee-jerk reaction to a problem that already happened and is now unlikely to happen again.

    Shoe-removing at U.S. airports is the most hateful example. Just because one guy tried to detonate his shoes four years ago, I will now have to remove my shoes everytime I board a plane for the rest of my life. Never mind that A) they don't even test the shoes for explosives, B) the next terrorist attack won't be on air-travel

  • Hrm... I guess the number 107 wasn't chosen without a hidden meaning [nasa.gov].
  • . . . if instead of integrating 107 cameras onto the shuttle, they just made sure it didn't blow up again? NASA seems more concerned with covering their asses when something goes wrong than in making sure it actually goes right in the first place.

    That said, I think they've lost sight of the fact that exploring space is always going to be risky but that the science that results from it is worth it.
  • "NASA scientists have confirmed that last week's Discovery disaster was caused by a camera that came loose during takeoff and damaged the heat resistent tiles on one of the wings..."

    D

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