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Discovery Set to Launch July 13

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the checked-the-bags-preflight dept.

Space 161

An anonymous reader writes "The US space shuttle is set to launch July 13 for the first time in nearly two and a half years, after being grounded following the 2003 Columbia disaster, NASA said today. NASA experts held a final 'flight readiness review' meeting on Wednesday and Thursday to make a final decision."

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whaa? (3, Interesting)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955385)

What about the fact that NASA failed [earthtimes.org] to meet three vital safety recomendations Tuesday? [google.com]

I mean granted, I'm sure they know what they are doing but what happens if we lose Discovery too? We haven't launched in over two years due to Columbia blowing up and I can't even imagine what would happen to the space program if we lost Discovery. Even more so if it is because of one of the failed safety checks.

From my link:
The panel said that NASA had failed to satisfactorily eliminate losses of foam and ice from the shuttle's external fuel tank. Additionally, the agency could not adequately strengthen areas of the spacecraft that are at risk of being damaged by the impact of stray debris. The astronauts who are a part of the return to flight mission did not have reliable repair kits, the panel pointed out.

Re:whaa? (4, Insightful)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955466)

Yes, we did not meet the security recomendations, but I don't think that should be a big deterrent for NASA. Compared to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, the Shuttle program is very safe. Add to that all the improvements they've made since the Shuttle came on-line, and space flight is much safer than it used to be.

The space business is a dangerous game and everyone used to accepted that. This was when astronauts were larger than life Supermen rather than scientists. I just want to know when the threat of death became an unacceptable risk for exploration.

Re:whaa? (4, Insightful)

lorelorn (869271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955765)

Exploration? What exploration? The shuttle has so far contributed precisely ZERO to human exploration of space.

One aspect of the recent tragedy was that those astronauts died on nothing more than a glorified taxi run. Their mission contributed nothing to science, it had no scientific reason to take place

The sooner we re-focus on real exploration in space the better, and we can do it without the shuttle or the money pit that is the ISS.

NASA needs to stop wasting money and get on with unmanned exploration of Mars, Europa and elsewhere, replace Hubble, and launch the terrestrial planet finder. All these projects are being pushed back to make way for this current fad of unscientific garbage that explores NOTHING.

Re:whaa? (4, Insightful)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955812)

I agree that there has not been much space exploration done by the shuttle per se, but it did facilitate the Hubble telescope, which has been one of the best tools for space exploration.

Re:whaa? (3, Interesting)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955933)

Considering the advances made within the ISS during its years in space already, the astronauts on board don't just sit up there for months twiddling their thumbs, they do a lot of research on a huge variety of fields, such as theeffects of zero gravity on biological organisms. Also, the fact that Shuttles have consistantly maintained projects such as Hubble contradicts your views on its potential replacement! I think you need some trolling practice dude.

Re:whaa? (1)

cbcanb (237883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956461)

I suppose you complain that people were doing "nothing more than a glorified taxi run" when they die on the roads, too?

Face it, most of life is boringly routine, including spaceflight. Not everything has to be about doing bold exploration in to the unknown.

Re:whaa? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956704)

Face it, most of life is boringly routine, including spaceflight. Not everything has to be about doing bold exploration in to the unknown.

If somebody's going to perform a useless boring routine, I'd prefer that the government not waste half a billion dollars of the taxpayers' money subsidizing it.

Re:whaa? (1)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956904)

how much do you think we spend on roads each year, bulk of travel on them cold be eliminated. Half billion dollars? (well, for one a orbiter is a few billion, a launch is 600-900 million bucks).

But going with your half billion, well, the rather mundane intersection between a 4 lane street and a I-880 by me is costing 96 million, so for your half billion you can have a space shuttle that does some interesting stuff, or about 5 intersection that are very boring, used by lots of people doing pointless trips, and will probably see more people killed in each one in the life of the intersection then is killed by a shuttle experiencing a "unscheduled decommissioning"

Re:whaa? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956975)

At least each intersection will probably host several hundred million vehicles over a couple of decades of service. Statistically speaking, at least some of that traffic will be of very high importance.

That compares favorably on a value-per-dollar basis to a two-week ant farming expedition for 7 overachieving geeks.

Re:whaa? (0, Troll)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955816)

G.I. Joe has a bigger chance of dying in a Humvee in Iraq than Buck Rogers has of dying in the shuttle.

Maybe the public would be more accepting of the risk if we let George Bush land the thing on an aircraft carrier.

Re:whaa? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956167)

Not quite true, but closer than a lot of people might think.

The chance of dying on the space shuttle is basically 2 out of 113 based on past history. The percentage of US troops in Iraq that have died is around 1% (1700 out of 170,000 or something like that).

Of course no one has ever died on any of the unmanned interplanetary missions. Maybe the lesson is that we should be doing more of those. What Iraq and the Shuttle have in common is they are BOTH horribly expensive, deadly, wastes of money. At least there's no draft for Shuttle astronauts.

Re:whaa? (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956684)

There is no draft for Iraq because that would be POLITICAL SUICIDE for the party in power if it happened.

The Democrats made noise about a draft to hurt the Republicans.

NO ONE WANTS A DRAFT, EXCEPT THOSE WHO ARE DAFT.

Also is the 170,000 the number of troops currently there or who had ever served in Iraq. You should use the second, higher number to calculate the risk.

I'd feel safer in Iraq myself. Heck, Baghdad is safer than many parts of some U.S. cities. :|

How can you say it is safer Safer? (0, Troll)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956095)

More people died in the shuttle program than the others combined.

Re:How can you say it is safer Safer? (1)

ginotech (816751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956194)

most shuttle missions have seven crewmembers. that's a lot more than mercury/gemini/apollo.

Re:How can you say it is safer Safer? (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956219)

sigh. Is it really necessary to point it out?

More people have died, but the shuttle program has lasted much, much longer than any of the previous programs and has flown many more times than all the other manned missions combined.

So (# deaths)/(length of program) is lower, and (# deaths)/(# flights) is lower, thus making it safer on average than any of the previous projects.

Re:whaa? (1)

Mr. Maestro (876173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956316)

I agree. I mean if you were making a chart with number of deaths per millions (or billions) of miles travelled, is there anything safer than NASA?
Ask the NHSTA what the automobile death rate is.
The astronauts still realize the risk. I believe it is an off-shoot of our 'everyone-has-to-blame-everyone' society.

Don't forget: (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955572)

We didn't land on the moon and we can't predict the weather. Soooo... let's work on that first, k?

Re:whaa? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955577)

Nasa Officials said yesterday, "Our goal in the return-to-flight recommendations was to break the causal chain between debris shedding and killing astronauts," said John M. Logsdon, the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, who was a member of the investigative board. NASA's actions, he went on, "have broken the chain in enough places that the spirit of the recommendations has been accomplished." I sure hope so.

Re: whaa? (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955811)


> I mean granted, I'm sure they know what they are doing but what happens if we lose Discovery too?

It would surely mean the end of our manned space program.

It might well mean the end of our entire space program, since it looks like the unfunded Mars mission serves no purpose other than to kill our unmanned space program.

Don't want any risk? (1)

ctetc007 (875050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956195)

Then don't get off the ground. End of story. This industry will always have risk, and the question is are they brought down to an acceptable level. We've done numerous tests on the ET foam, we've redesigned the bipod area, we've replaced the stuff with heaters. We've developed a boon for detection of cracks, we've developed a tile repair kit and goo to do an EVA tile patch up. We've also developed a rescue plan in the event none of these things have helped. We've gone a long way, and we've done a hell of a lot of stuff to make this program safer. The risk level is acceptable. Otherwise, none of those 7 astronauts would be willing to fly on that thing. We're ready to fly.

Re:whaa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956406)

What about the fact that NASA failed to meet three vital safety recomendations Tuesday?

It's a trap!

Re:whaa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956983)

It's a trap!
-admiral Ackbar

Return to Fright (-1, Flamebait)

ReelOddeeo (115880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955436)

My Engrish speaking friend has been anxiousry araiting the space shutter's Return to Fright.

The shuttle (2, Interesting)

jon855 (803537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955467)

is just fine, I mean look at the number of the trip that it has made in the past without a problem and since one stray debris caused so much trouble. I think they should work on how to deflect debris rather than improve the shuttle itself.

Re:The shuttle (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955580)

What should we do?

Raise the deflector shields, or cover the shuttle with inanimate carbon rods?

Re:The shuttle (1)

jon855 (803537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955968)

That may be true and a tough task to tackle. How we could improve the safety of it could be harder than we could think. But I am sure it does not have to include the redesign the shuttle itself. Nonetheless, such changes would be very costly and tedious task to do. Nothing will stop debris from hitting the shuttle and more importantly what will stop the outer space debris to hit the shuttle?

Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955483)

To do a pre-return check of the bottom of the shuttle- especially given that this would be very easy to do with a small disposable wireless camera bot in zero gravity, or even with longer tethers on space suits in the cargo area. Seems like less than an $800 investment could mean so much....

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955514)

No, they outfitted the canadarm with supersensative 3D mapping devices.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955560)

Ok- that's at least the ability to look at the bottom- I think. Can the canadarm reach that far?

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955620)

That was 1 of the issues - how much of the underside can be scanned. The bigger issue was fixing a hole once it was found. I think they still haven't found a way to fix big holes.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955737)

If you know the hole is there- then alternatives can be found for getting back. If you don't know the hole is even there- then you have no chance at all. There are other countries with spacecraft available that would be plenty happy to rescue our people if neccessary- plus emergency Apolo and Soyuz command modules in orbit if the shuttle can get to the International Space Station- but all of that is useless if the crew has no way to inspect the outside of the shuttle.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

nlinecomputers (602059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956822)

Apollo? Uh we haven't had anything from Apollo in space in 30 years. Soyuz is up but no Apollo. Part of the problem is that not all shuttle missions can put them in the correct orbit with ISS. This mission will be in the correct orbit and most of the planned shuttle missions are but not the last mission of Columbia for example.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (4, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955881)

The Canadarm on its own cannot reach to the places required, however, the Canadarm creators (MD Robotics [mdrobotics.ca] have come up with an extension boom for the shuttle.

In orbit, this attaches to the end of the Canadarm and is able to inspect the entire surface.

They have a rather cool animated walkthrough and some images here [mdrobotics.ca] .

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1, Troll)

Capt. Caneyebus (883802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955531)

This is a government entity. An $800 piece of equipment cost $10,000 for them.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955570)

A fail-safe vehicle needs to be developed. The shuttle can't be made that way, only a new design will do.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (1)

AAeyers (857625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956399)

A fail-safe vehicle needs to be developed.

Haha. I almost thought you were serious for a moment.

Oh wait...

The second round into the same hole... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955664)

Whatever (if anything) ruins the next shuttle, it will likely be not be the same thing, that caused any of the earlier disasters.

Re:The second round into the same hole... (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955773)

True enough- but there are broad lessons that can be learned. The lesson from Challenger was that they needed better inspection on the ground before launch, not just of the O rings, but of everything- as well as a way to escape an aborted launch. The lesson from Columbia was that they needed in-orbit inspection *before* returning to Earth- especially of any air-control surface (which is basically the whole shuttle- it does become an huge glider on re-entry). Each broad lesson learned doesn't just eliminate the specific problem- it elminates a whole slew of possible problems.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (2, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955725)

They did run an experiment with the AERcam sprint [nasa.gov] on Columbia in '97. I believe the RF link only worked within the cargo bay so a belly insection would be out of the question.

It appears that they have a new model AERcam [nasa.gov] in development for use on ISS and shuttle inspections though.

$800!?!??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955771)

$800 was way too little, lets think of what you need in terms of big budget items.

1) Some way of moving the camera around. This is space so you need trusters.
2) You need some way of stabilizing the bot so it points at the orbiter.
3) You need a camera and optics.
4) You need some way of talking to the bot remotely.
5) Everything above must work in low earth orbit conditions.

Re:$800!?!??! (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956025)

1. For a throwaway, relatively cheap silver shavings and hydrogen peroxide will do enough to push it away from the shuttle- and manuver it in the right direction. Remember, you don't neccessarily need to get it back to get the pictures.

2. The thrusters can do this job relatively well, IF you have a high enough resolution camera so that when it's far enough away you can still get a good enough digital picture back to get the whole bottom of the orbiter.

3. Camera and optics is the cheap part- an 8 megapixel digital camera will do the job nicely.

4. Also well proven off-the-shelf technology at this point- so well proven that you've got that much in $200 worth of equipment from Fry's.

5. That's not so hard at all- we've been building small sattelites that work in LEO for nearly 50 years now, also off-the-shelf parts.

Here's two you failed to mention- not completely insurmountable, but enough that the extension boom on the canadarm is a better choice:

6. Getting a radio signal through the faraday cage that is the underside of the shuttle (hint- need to find and choose the correct set of frequencies for the 8 channels that you'd need- 6 for manuvering, 1 for camera control, 1 return to get the picture back). The arm is wired control, less flakey than RF.

7. It's possible that a bot will miss a slight flaw less than 1 pixel in size when taking a picture of the entire bottom of the shuttle- where the arm can do an up-close inspection.

Re:Please tell me they at least have the ability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12957210)

Ah, but would off the shelf hardware work? There are many reasons why it would not.

oh no! (2, Funny)

mindwar (708277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955498)

july 13? this cant be good.

Re:oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955676)

Even if I was a superstitious person, I wouldn't really be worried about Wednesday the 13th.

Yell Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956226)

I wish tonight wasn't Wednesday night
I wish it wasn't the thirteenth of July, yell help
And you're looking at the guy whose eyes can't deny
That he wishes he were somewhere else tonight

(Elton John/Bernie Taupin)

Re:oh no! (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955687)

The number didn't have any impact on the Apollo 13 mission. . . . .

Re:oh no! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957000)

Never mind the fact that Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 in the afternoon and all the major problems with the craft started on April 13,. . .



It's a darn good thing that this shuttle flight is STS-114, and not STS-113,. . .

Has someone already made the obvious July 4th... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955788)

Joke?

BOOM! Ooooooooo... AHHHHHHH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955859)

Has someone already made the obvious July 4th joke?

No.

Re:Has someone already made the obvious July 4th.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955878)

why, yes, yes i already did. it's under the 13th thread ...

Re:oh no! (2, Interesting)

richdun (672214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955848)

Nothing to worry about July 13th. All three major disasters for NASA have happened within the same calendar week (last week of January, first couple days of February), albeit 40 years apart (Apollo 1 - January 27, 1963; Challenger - January 28, 1986; Columbia - February 1, 2003).

Re:oh no! (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955913)

Well NASA of course would normally be concerned about the 13th being an unluck day, but they figured there was a 30 fold damping factor due to the other 30 days of the "lucky month" cancelling the effect.

Either that, or the guys and girls at NASA just don't believe in all that superstitious stuff.
Being full of astronomers and mathematicians instead of astrologists and numerologists, I would guess that the latter is the case.

Re:oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955987)

F*k it, man!
Launch that sonbich @ 13:13.1313, Schedule the mission for 13 days 13 hours 13.13 seconds.

Bah!

Re:oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956791)

Wanting to put a good light on a July 13th Launch, here is an item I came across:

First lighter-than-air transatlantic flight. The British dirigible R-34 [centennialofflight.gov] , commanded by Maj. George H. Scott, left Firth of Forth, Scotland (July 2, 1919), and touched down at Mineola, L.I., 108 hr. later. The eastbound trip was made in 75 hr. (completed July 13, 1919)

There is an image of the dirigible in the link, and they have a large version of the image, clearly showing that it has 4 engines and other interesting features. The link refers to the R-34 as a Navy dirigible, the year of 1919 is correct, so I guess it is the same one that made the trip ending on July 13th.
Of course the STS-114 [nasa.gov] flight will not end on the 13th, but I wanted to show that aviation pioneers are not at all afraid of the 13th. They just do it.

My memories (5, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955511)

We vacationed every summer in FL. It was always part of the trip to visit Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy). I have fond memories of it. Hot faced from too much sun, beach clothes and sandals, and seeing those incredible rockets towering into the sky as my dad drove us onto the compound. Little did I know of the history, for I was born in 1968 and at the time was a child. My dad was really into it and took all the time to explain the details of the thing. To me, he was everything, and so was my country. He bought me a Space Shuttle model, and I remember clearly the towering building wherein it all was assembled -- labeled with our nation's flag. I remember the juggernaut machine that traveled at one or two miles an hour which moved the rockets into place. I remember the launch pad, the museum displaying the Apollo crafts and astronaut suits. My dad took lots of pictures. He taught me to believe in our country and in its projects. There was so much pride in me then. I was proud of my dad, our country, our achievements.

My dad is gone now, and I'm not sure what he would think about things now. I think he would be sad. We have angered countries, lost landmarks and shuttles have fallen. I would not want him to know these things, and I bear them now in his memory, but maybe, just maybe, we can regain our standing as a nation and in space....

Re:My memories (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955626)

oh, boo hoo. you truly have a pitiful life.

Re:My memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955722)

hurry up and swallow that bottle of aspirin.

Re:My memories (0, Offtopic)

dcstimm (556797) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956301)

Give me a break, why cant you be proud of our nation? we fight in things we believe in, and we are doing the right thing, even if you dont think we are.

Re:My memories (0, Offtopic)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956353)

why cant you be proud of our nation?


Because our nation's actions since 2001 have been shameful. An invasion and occupation based on lies, detentions without due process, torture, kidnapping, fiscal irresponsibility, the subjugation of science for political ends, etc. I was proud of my nation before, and with luck I'll be proud of it again someday. But I'm not proud of it now.


and we are doing the right thing, even if you dont think we are


It may be comforting to tell yourself that, but saying it doesn't make it so.

Re:My memories (1, Offtopic)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956609)

Never has there been more reason to be proud. Our country has done the right thing despite it being unpopular.

Being right and popular rarely go together.

The invasion has eliminated a tyrant and there is no occupation...

Terrorists are confined and treated better than they deserve...

How do you put a price on freedom and our children's security...

Our country still has the power to explore the heavens with what once was a mortal enemy... ...and the vision to explore cislunar space and beyond.

If you can't be proud today, you must live in someplace called paris.

Re:My memories (1)

mph (7675) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957272)

The invasion has eliminated a tyrant and there is no occupation...
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
We have always been at war with Iraq.
There is no occupation.

Re:My memories (0, Flamebait)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956924)

Gotta say this first, enough with the weekly Slashdot stories about some sorry ass committee saying the shuttle might fly, though there is another committe meeting next week at which point maybe it wont. Can we wait until:

A. It launches
B. it land safely

and stop the week by week coverage of the pathetic bureaucracy that is today's Shuttle program.

If you want to salvage your faith in American ingenuity and space farering try to catch the Discovery documentary Black Sky: The Race for Space [discovery.com] and its sequel, Black Sky: Winning the X Prize. Discover Science ran it a few times in the last few weeks and never tired of watching it over and over. Not sure how it would play with young people but I sure would like to see schools showing it in science classes. Kids with a science and math aptitude and dreams of space travel would probably dig it. Its an interesting and real picture of what its like to work on an engineering team doing something hard and solving hard problems.

I particuarly like the Scaled Composites aero engineer, he had a great sense of humor. He caught a trim problem, in real-time, in the middle of one of the flights that prevented a disaster. He sure looked like he knew his stuff and he designed big parts of SpaceShipOne solo.

He had a line I wish I could quote exactly about how we have all been trained to think we can't do anything amazing any more unless we are part of big government or big business. A key thing The Scaled Composites team wanted to prove is that 20 people working as a close knit team could still do something hard and amazing.

Contrast this with NASA's manned space program, and army of like 10,000 which is squandering billions every year and can't do anything amazing any more, they can't even do things they did 10, 20 and 40 years ago. This is what happens when you take the amazing Apollo team and turn it in to an entrenched bureaucracy, a jobs program, and corprate welfare for Boeing and Lockheed. Its an institution just trying to preserve itself and its tax payer funding and not do anything amazing any more.

GO SCALED COMPOSITES!!!

Re:My memories (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956967)

Yes, let's compare. SS1, while cool in a hobby-kind-of-way, gets to space (suborbital) for something like 10 seconds.

Compare that to a continual human presence in space for almost 5 years.

Re:My memories (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957138)

Lets look at the record for flights putting men in to what is strictly defined as space in the last 2 and half years:

Scaled Composites = 3 if I remember correctly
NASA = 0 of this I am sure

Record for fatal accidents in the last 3 years:

Scaled composites = 0
NASA = 1

How much did NASA spend on manned space flight over this period? Not sure anyone knows but its probably like $10-20 billion, Scaled composites spent like $20-30 million.

Who broke the 40 year old altitude record for an aero launched vehicle, Scaled Composites, not NASA.

How many new manned rate vehicles capable of reaching space has NASA designed in the last 30 years, zero. Scaled composites has 1 new design and at least 1 more in the pipe. There is an oribital vehicle on Rutan's drawing board.

"Compare that to a continual human presence in space for almost 5 years."

Yo, dumb ass, the Russians are the ones that have maintained that presence for the last 2 1/2 years. Without them the crew that was in the ISS when Columbia crashed would be dead because the U.S. has had no capability to launch men in to space or get them back for the last 2 1/2 years. It will be 10 years, and billions of dollars, before there is even a remote chance of a new manned rated spacecraft from NASA, the CEV, if it ever gets built. The Shuttle is going to be retired long before then most probably around 2010, so NASA will most probably be unable to launch a man in to space or to the ISS for like 5 years from 2010 to 2015, assuming CEV doesn't slip which it WILL. So if your sacred manned presence is to be maintained then the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Europeans or Japanese will have to service it.

Re:My memories (0, Flamebait)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956927)

Never has there been more reason to be proud. Our country has done the right thing despite it being unpopular.

Being right and popular rarely go together.

The invasion has eliminated a tyrant and there is no occupation...

Terrorists are confined and treated better than they deserve...

How do you put a price on freedom and our children's security...

Our country still has the power to explore the heavens with what once was a mortal enemy... ...and the vision to explore cislunar space and beyond.

If you can't be proud today, you must live in someplace called paris.

13th (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955515)

Couldn't they have picked a date other than the 13th? At least it ain't a Friday. No, I'm not superstitious or nothing like that.... honest.

Wednesday the 13th (5, Funny)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955603)

They were going to leave on July 4th, but someone pointed out the space highways would be crowded then, and liquid NOX prices would be higher.

So they decided to go surfing for a week before, to beat the crowds.

Re:13th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955959)

So what's the big deal with this 13? Apollo 13 went fine.

Re:13th (1)

restlesscheese (810121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956937)

No, they couldn't have. This way, it's the day after my birthday. That's the most important thing, of course.

Re:13th (2, Funny)

Captain DaFt (755254) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957107)

" No, I'm not superstitious or nothing like that.... honest."

Thank goodness for that. Everyone knows it's bad luck to be superstitious!

Famous Last Words (1)

corngrower (738661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957357)

From TFA:
"We honestly believe this is the cleanest flight we have ever done. The only other flight that will be cleaner is the next flight," he added.

SWEET (1)

ToasterofDOOM (878240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955523)

I'm going to be on vacation within sight range then ... this just made my vacation! (and it's even *gasp* worth ripping myself away from a computer for a week!)

Re:SWEET (1)

MurphyZero (717692) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956965)

To be honest, you may even be able to see it in New York. But the best place to watch is Cape Canaveral and Kennedy. I've been watching them live since 98 and it would be nice to see them again.

dang! why that date?!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955538)

well, I guess it just comes after the number 12. It seems with all the work, technical and political (it is all politics, read the history), I would think they at least stay with the July 22 date.

Now I gotta get our amateur TV re-transmission of NASA TV operational sooner!

Mike K6MFW

When is it set to "land" ? (0, Flamebait)

ARRRLovin (807926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955551)

Didn't RTFA.

Re:When is it set to "land" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956497)

2010
read the article, asswipe

minor nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955598)

it is a US space shuttle, not the US space shuttle.

Meanwhile... (3, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955648)


...more immediately and IMO more interestingly, Deep Impact [wikipedia.org] is going to do its stuff in about 4 days.

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12957099)

...Deep Impact is going to do its stuff in about 4 days.

Hrm, smashing a space craft into a comet to do science? What a testosterone-laden concept. I can imagine the mission being proposed to the NASA brass: the scientist closes his presentation on the flight trajectory by smashing of a bear can against his forehead.

Not to seem sexist, but somehow I doubt it was a woman who came up with this mission...

Quite odd (2, Insightful)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955755)

Its quite strange. Most of the major news agencys reported recently that NASA had confirmed that the Shuttle could be launched in July, as it was within an "acceptable" bracket of safety.

Yet less than a week later, the same news networks were saying that a major commission had concluded that NASA infact hadn't met their targets, lumped with a whole lot of criticism of the space agency as a whole, too.

But as this topic confirms the launch will go ahead apparantly regardless of what this commission found? I wondered if anyone could clarify the situation at large? (I'm not trolling or anything here, just geniunely puzzled about the table of events leading up to Discovery's launch.)

Re:Quite odd (2, Informative)

Boilermaker84 (896573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957196)

One of the three "unmet" requirements is a usable repair kit. This has been the most technically challenging requirements to meet. NASA has done everything they can to come up with a method/materials to repair on orbit. You can't validate a zero-g repair option in a gravity environment, though. There's a kit in the payload bay which will support repair tests on orbit. The other two deal with ice/foam falling off the tank and hardening the orbiter from impacts. The tank bipod area has been redesigned entirely (this is where the foam came from on the Columbia mission). During the first tanking test, ice was noted to be forming on the O2 return line. Discovery was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, de-stacked and put on a tank/booster stack where the tank had a heater installed to prevent icing on the line (all future tanks will have this modification). The foam application process has been altered and the chances of a large piece of foam falling off are significantly reduced from where they were 2.5 years ago. NASA has maintained all along that foam debris could not be 100% eliminated. Hardeining of the Reinforced Carbon Carbon wing leading edge tiles was the last item. Since Bush has mandated the shuttle be retired by 2010, NASA doesn't have a long term plan in place for addressing this. What they do have is 66 accelerometers lining the inside of each wing to detect if something does hit the wing. High resolution imaging on orbit is in place. High resolution cameras will be watching everything during launch. Each orbiter is outfitted with a boom that is essentially an extension to the Canada arm and allows for inspection of the wing leading edges. NASA and its contractors have done just about everything they can to meet the last requirements without actually meeting them. There are a LOT of improvements over where things were in 2003. Those that make the decisions feel that the risk is minimal enough and that the plans to address anything that happens are sufficient to justify returning to flight.

No Guts, No Glory? (3, Insightful)

cloudofstrife (887438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955769)

Why doesn't anyone ever seem to realize that all of the scientific advancements that have come through manned spaceflight have come at a risk? Astronauts are strapped into a rocket capable of accelerating the space shuttle (no small object) to 10.7 km/s, many miles in the air (above the atmosphere) and then have to re-enter the atmosphere and land safely after slowing down from many times the speed of sound. With manned space flight, sh-I mean bad stuff has got to happen, and it's a wonder that more hasn't gone wrong.

Re:No Guts, No Glory? (1)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12955915)

I agree with you quite strongly, however I still don't think that argument really quite works.

It's one thing entirely to know that something unknown might go wrong and you may die. It's quite another to know that what went wrong last time wasn't fixed.

I count the former to be an acceptable risk, given the care NASA usually takes and their track record. The latter, I really must concede. They should fix the problems better.

Re:No Guts, No Glory? (1)

dancpsu (822623) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956313)

But this is not some failed part, this is a random chunk of ice that hit the shuttle wing on liftoff. What if it was spacejunk instead. A meteor?

Unless we have some futuristic sheilding technology, things hitting the shuttle hard and damaging it are going to happen. By your logic, because we don't have the sheilding technology (or the capability to repair the shuttle in space) then we should just wait around until someone invents these things before returning to space.

Re:No Guts, No Glory? (1)

cloudofstrife (887438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956666)

Actually, to the best of my knowledge it was a piece of foam off of one of the boosters that gouged a hole in part of the orbiter wing. If that hole had not been there, there would not have been extra friction and the shuttle would not have burned up.

mod D0wn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12955815)

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Not Friday The 13th... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956001)

Why are they launching on Friday The 13th? (Yes, it's Wednesday but the Bloom County kid freaked on the 13th of every month.) Anyway, it wasn't so bad for Apollo 13. :P

Possible Problem (1)

doomtiki (789936) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956110)

Space Shuttle Discovery has become too much like the Discovery Channel- too much Monster Garage and not enough Physics. Look at picture number 4. http://www.msnbc.com/modules/interactive.aspx?type =ss&launch=7587438,6955261 [msnbc.com]

Re:Possible Problem (2, Interesting)

rctay (718547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956252)

People wouldn't watch a channel devoted to science. They wanted crap. These same people are doing the voting for people making the decisions about space flight. Sometimes the limitations of a representative democracy is all to apparent.

Re:Possible Problem (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956886)

People wouldn't watch a channel devoted to science. They wanted crap. These same people are doing the voting for people making the decisions about space flight.

That gives me an idea for a sure-fire space program that will enjoy the full support of the American public:

Create two teams each comprised of a combination of rocket scientists and washed-up hollywood celebrities. Pit them against each other in a battle to create the next manned space launch system. Each team is given a workshop, a silo full of old ICBM parts, a '71 Dodge Challenger and 3 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The first team into orbit wins $50,000 and a chance to try for a major defense contract. The contest starts at T-minus 21 days.

Re:Possible Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12957018)

that's some serious duct tape..

Greeeeaaaat (2, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956345)

$600 MILLION dollars to launch a shuttle, down the drain. I wonder how many probes that would buy? I wonder how many probes a year we could launch if all those resources were put toward them?

A hundred probes a year? A thousand, if we mass produced them?

I hate NASA and the culture of "we must put people in space no matter how wasteful and useless it is."

Re:Greeeeaaaat (2, Informative)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956414)

Mass produced them? A thousand identical probes? Just how advanced, intelligent, multi-functional do you think our "probes" can be right now? I don't know that we could come up with a really workable *dual* use design (say, one design that could go to both the moon and mars and do useful things), much less a design that would be useful for a *thousand* different exploration/testing tasks using an identical probe in each case.

What features that are currently technically feasable (at any cost) would you put into a "probe" such than 1,000 of them would actually be useful to us? Where would you send them?

It's not like we can currently build a machine (at any cost) that we can just send straight up into space with a single instruction to "explore everything, follow your whims, and tell us stuff" in anything more than a completely random, unintelligent (and thus not very scientifically useful) way.

Methinks you've been watching too much Star Trek.

Re:Greeeeaaaat (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956588)

What features that are currently technically feasable (at any cost) would you put into a "probe" such than 1,000 of them would actually be useful to us?

Only one feature is needed: Modularity.

You design a general probe with all the things that wouldn't generally change (e.g., communication, power, etc), and you make the sensors "modules" that can be plugged into it.

Where would you send them?

If you can't think of anything to see, get out of the way of people who can. There are ENDLESS experiments you can do if you have cheap probes. Have a high risk experiment? Send five or ten of them.

...with a single instruction to "explore everything, follow your whims, and tell us stuff"

Um, I didn't say "intelligent", I said "mass produced".

Taking Bets (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956363)

If I was a bookie, I'd be taking bets on these guys coming back alive. The Space Shuttle is still a flying death trap.

Doesn't NASA believe in bad luck number? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12956366)

Anyone still remember Apollo 13....

Re:Apollo 13 wasn't so bad (2, Informative)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957035)

Nobody died in Apollo 13.

Schedule of the heavens: July (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956450)

July 4: Deep Impact hits comet Temple1BRBR July 13: Shuttle Launches

July 15: Temple 1 hits shuttle

Yea! My Birthday! (1)

ender_wiggins (81600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12956776)

Some good things are associated with 13!!!

1-800-KSC-INFO (3, Informative)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12957299)

When I moved to Florida one of my friends gave me the number. It's great for knowing when to watch for a launch here--not just shuttles, but any launch from Kennedy Space Center.

If you call you'll hear in the first 10 seconds of the recorded message that the launch is currently targeted for July 13th. The message said the same as last time I checked a week or two ago.

Definately a handy number to have :)

1-800-KSC-INFO for anyone that didn't see the subject.
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