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NASA Debates Second Discovery Repair

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the neverending-saga dept.

NASA 257

An anonymous reader writes "NASA is debating today whether or not they should attempt a second repair attempt of the Space Shuttle Discovery to repair a possible problem with the thermal blanket. On Wednesday, an astronaut removed two protruding cloth fillers from between the ceramic tiles on the space shuttle's heat shield. "I think in the old days we would not have worried about this so much," said shuttle programme deputy manager Wayne Hale The astronaut extended his gloved hand and quickly removed the first fiber strip, which was sticking up from Discovery's smooth, tiled underside. "It's coming out very easily," the astronaut said. Arm operator Jim Kelly then maneuvered the arm about three meters to the second protruding strip, known as a gap filler, and Robinson gently pulled that piece out as well. The concern now is whether or not a damaged thermal blanket under one of the cockpit windows would tear apart during re-entry and strike the orbiter."

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Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (4, Funny)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241885)

What's the worst that could happen?

Re:Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (5, Funny)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241918)

If the window does come off, the inanimate carbon rod can always save you as you sing Battle Hymn of the Republic upon reentry.

Re:Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242008)

lol, what?

Re:Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (1)

enjerth (892959) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242504)

Should they attempt a second attempt without planned planning?

Re:Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (2, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242148)

I'm worried they are actually doing more damage by removing materials than just leaving them be.

Those gap fillers came out when some guy pulled on them, you'd think the force of re-entry would have pushed them right back into place with no problem. By pulling it out they've left a gaping, but small, hole in their thermal protection system. I'm still convinced that they should have just left it alone, and that the orbiter's completely ready for re-entry.

Whatever they decide to do, I hope they hurry up and get it done, so that when they come back unscathed everyone can breathe easier.

Re:Keep Pulling Till You Find Out. (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242583)

Whatever they decide to do, I hope they hurry up and get it done, so that when they come back unscathed everyone can breathe easier.

People love a tragedy, don't they? And when something tragic happens, they look so intently for someone to blame, that those who have any ability to do anything to prevent a reoccurance are put on super-high-intensity alert. Can putting so much crazy media pressure on NASA be good for these folks? And why don't we care two licks about the incredible scientific and diplomatic achievments of the space program, but are so rediculously latched on to a falling piece of foam that has happened thousands of times before?

People love a tragedy. Morbid curiosity makes us stick around not to witness a safe recovery, but to see if tragedy strikes again, so we can Monday-morning-QB the entire situation as if we have a clue what we're talking about.

Even posting this information on Slashdot shows the incredible amount of unwarranted press this is getting. But alas, I am still posting, because I am still reading. Damned my human nature.

Man, whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241886)

Isn't basically the only thing they're testing on this flight anyway the Shuttle's new self-repair capabilities? I say, go for it. Play with your new toy.

Re:Man, whatever (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242087)

Old and busted : the NASA space shuttle

New hotness : I ain't gonna touch that one...

Waited too long... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241888)

> BREAKING NEWS NASA determines droopy shuttle insulation blanket not a danger to Discovery, no fourth spacewalk required. Details soon.

Re:Waited too long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242371)

"informative," eh?

Re:Waited too long... (4, Informative)

jdunlevy (187745) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242445)

Yeah, the "Latest News" at NASA's "Return to Flight" site [nasa.gov] :
No Fourth Spacewalk Needed
Mission control radioed the Discovery crew today with news that they will not need to make a fourth spacewalk to fix a thermal blanket near the Commander's left window. Mission Control and the crew agreed that it was "good news."
The Mission Management Team, which made the decision based on extensive analysis, is still meeting. More details about the decision will be discussed at a news conference at 3 p.m. EDT today.

Is this a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241891)

Is this supposed to mean something comming from overclockersclub.com? Are the editors trying to say they run things a little hot anyway - and associating Jim with Jill Kelly? Yeah it is late in the week for karma burn Tuesday.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241893)

Tender Nubbins!

You know what they say... (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241894)

... better safe than sorry.

Plus its not like its costing us any extra money or anything. Safety first and all that.

Re:You know what they say... (1)

Newbreedofnerd (894701) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242038)

I'm hoping that all these problems with our current shuttles will convince NASA to work on something newer. Either way, hopefully they will perform whatever repairs are necessary to get the astronauts back down safely.

Re:You know what they say... (4, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242050)

Plus its not like its costing us any extra money or anything.

Preparing for, and performing a spacewalk requires that the astronauts skip other tasks that have already been planned.

Safety first and all that.

A spacewalk is not without risk. That risk has to be weighed against the risk of not repairing the thermal blanket.

Re:You know what they say... (1)

ehiris (214677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242174)

A spacewalk is not without risk.

OK, There is risk but what is the chance of an accident during the space walk? Has there ever been an accident during a space walk?

It seems like there have been more space walks than shuttle flights.

Re:You know what they say... (2, Interesting)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242420)

OK, There is risk but what is the chance of an accident during the space walk? Has there ever been an accident during a space walk?

There have been some close calls, but no serious accidents in the US program. During the 60's, a Soviet astronaut had problems getting back into the capsule and shutting the hatch, due to the pressuration in his suit. More recently, a problem with pressure in an oxygen bottle forced a spacewalk at the ISS to be aborted.

But, the risks aren't just to the spacewalker. Just moving around near the outside of the orbiter risks a collision that can cause more damage.

It seems like there have been more space walks than shuttle flights.

If you add up all the spacewalks since the 60's, I sure that there are more. However, the relative infrequency of these events doesn't provide enough samples to compare the risk on that basis alone.

Re:You know what they say... (2, Interesting)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242571)

Pierce the space suit and the astronaut is in a world of trouble. Space is a hostile enough envirionment that if the debris strike didn't kill the astronaut outright, the resultant loss of air pressure would. To get an idea of the liklihood, you can look at the shuttle windows as they record every hit they take on each flight. This article [timesherald.com] notes:
With all the cosmic debris orbiting the earth, it's little wonder the space shuttles routinely get dings in their windshields.

A tiny speck of space debris smashed into Space Shuttle Challenger's windshield on astronaut Rick Hauck's first mission in 1983, leaving a 4-mm crater, about 0.2 inches. Hauck spotted the small pit in the glass and alerted the crew. The debris was later identified as a chip of white paint, likely a remnant of a previous rocket launch. Though small, the debris was estimated to be hurtling through space at about 10,800 mph when it hit the window.

"We end up replacing one to two thermal windows after each shuttle mission," said Nick Johnson, NASA's Orbital Debris Program manager.

So the question NASA faces knowing they're replacing one or two windows each mission due to debris strikes is: is the hazard posed by the filler higher than the hazard posed by sace debris?

Re:You know what they say... (2, Informative)

EvilMidnightBomber (778018) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242372)

A spacewalk is not without risk.

Indeed. From Wikipedia: EVA hazards [wikipedia.org]

The primary [risk factor] is collision with space debris. Orbital velocity at 300 km above the Earth (typical for a Space Shuttle mission) is 7.7 km/s. This is 10 times the speed of a bullet, so the kinetic energy of a small particle (e.g. a fleck of paint or a grain of sand) is equal to that of a bullet with a mass that is 100 times as large.

Re:You know what they say... (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242209)

Plus its not like its costing us any extra money or anything. Safety first and all that.

      Incorrect. The astronauts were not going to simply sit there for the duration of the mission. They had a work schedule - and lot of experiments to perform. Since some of them are now spending time on repairs instead of carrying out their programmed schedule, this work will not be done. This lost work cost money in terms of the mass of the equipment that had to be lifted into orbit for nothing (mass which could have been used for something else like more supplies for the space station). It also costs money because now ANOTHER Shuttle/Soyuz mission will be necessary to get this equipment into orbit or get these experiments done.

      Also the shuttle flight was extended 1 day so far. This has certain implications for the mission control/tracking staff on the ground - I am sure NASA is not on full staff when they are not flying a mission.

      There is ALWAYS a cost for anything if you're prepared to look for it.

Re:You know what they say... (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242447)

There is ALWAYS a cost for anything if you're prepared to look for it

Yeah, because when you factor in the salaries, benefits, and office resources used by those looking for the cost...

Re:You know what they say... (2, Informative)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242448)

Most contollers have "day jobs" at NASA as wel. So NASA IS at full staff during a mission and also when the STS is on the ground. Other work is postponed for controller duties, and alternate shifts are worked. Extended 1 days costs NOTHING, the consumables on the STS (food, and fuel cells, and to some extent air) are the limiting factor. Most experiments are automated, but some will require readings to be taken by astronauts, that is why there is a Science Office on board. He/She has that job as thier primary job. In short, I don't think the extra day or the extra spacewalks cost anything. The STS launch is pretty much a fixed cost whether is 1 day or 14 days. As for lost work, they'll just work a few longer hours and get less sleep. Remember you got a 7 person crew and only two did the repairs. I don't think the other 5 sat around and watched!

i think they should (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241900)

just take their chances and see if we get another show

news source (2, Informative)

sHORTYWZ (777909) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241909)

Out of all places to link a news story like this we choose an overclocking webpage? Irregardless, they have decided not to repair the blanket per MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8826983/ [msn.com]

Re:news source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241991)

The word is "Regardless", try using it.

Re:news source (1)

GMachine_24 (905163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242124)

Yeah. You beat me to it. My mom had a pulmonologist who said "irregardless" this and that. She died.

Re:news source (1)

TheOldSchooler (850678) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242133)

Hey! Don't talk to Beth like that!

Irregardless is not a word moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242186)

no comment

Slashdot is a bit slow today ... (5, Informative)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241914)

Re:Slashdot is a bit slow today ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241975)

CNN has it up already that NASA is not going to fix it. Just a second source.

Re:Slashdot is a bit slow today ... (1)

telecsan (170227) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242042)

Hey, at least the news is from today! Isn't that an improvement? But good catch anyway.

mod parent up - better link than the overclock one (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242291)

the parent link to the later story on the AP wire is way more informative and contradicts the overclock.com attempt to get slashdot hitrates.

Re:Slashdot is a bit slow today ... (1)

hazzey (679052) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242524)

Well using overclockersclub.com as a news source for stories like this doesn't make too much sense either.

Overclockers.com? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13241917)

Is this truly the best source to quote for this type of story? I can think of several much better ones off the top of my head....
space.com
spaceflightnow.com
nasa.gov
flatoday.com
chron.com

Re:Overclockers.com? (4, Interesting)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241996)

Is this truly the best source to quote for this type of story?

No, it's a pretty transparent attempt to bring readers to overclockers.com. The Slashdot editors should know better.

Re:Overclockers.com? (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242190)

i agree, the slashdot editors should have definitely pointed to nasa.gov or at least space.com if they wanted a link for this.

but i guess they get ad revenue from those guys or something.

Re:Overclockers.com? (1)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242402)

Why do people make comments like this? "I'm surprised at the slashdot editors, ____" Since when do you have any basis for thinking that slashdot is anything other than a zoo run by the animals? They know that all they have to do is click "accept" on a few stories, and people will still come and do their thing. They pretty much have a monopoly on the nerd news.

See? Lack of competition does breed crap. =P

In other news... (5, Funny)

LexNaturalis (895838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241927)

L.L. Bean filed suit against NASA for using the term "Thermal Blanket" when discussing the potential repairs.

Joe Smith, lead counsel for L.L. Bean is quoted as saying "It's clear that NASA is attempting to make our consumers believe that L.L. Bean's thermal blankets are hazerdous. The fact is, there is no evidence to suggest that Thermal Blankets have ever caused damage, much less damage to a space shuttle."

Re:In other news... (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242484)

Good thing NASA doesn't describe it as "Thermal Underwear" huh? Imagine having your nuts blown off during lift-off! Mmmmm... Could be fun!

DUPE!! (0)

The Dear Leader (899136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241946)

As found here before.... [slashdot.org]

Re:DUPE!! (1)

Zen Punk (785385) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242398)

Hahahah, that's a good one. Apparently that link logs you out of Slashdot. Fucking clever.

Lack of worry (2, Insightful)

dbhankins (688931) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241956)

"I think in the old days we would not have worried about this so much,"

should be immediately followed by,

"but of course in the old days we lost two shuttles because we didn't worry so much, and I'm not the one who has to ride the inside of a flaming torch across a couple thousand miles of sky, so who am I to say?"

Re:Lack of worry (1)

ouaibe (762632) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242271)

I totally agree with what you are stating but it wouldn't be stupid to think that the Nasa might also be trying to be a bit "over-dramatic" in order to revive the passion people used to have regarding space flight, getting people more implicated in such issues always makes it easier when it comes to budget questions, and they truely need some more right now.

Re:Lack of worry (1)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242521)

It worked well for Apollo 13. Nothing like a crisis or potential for crisis to boost ratings!

Evolution (0, Offtopic)

burtdub (903121) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241971)

Okay... this one's trickier to turn into the creation/evolution. How about:

I guess NASA scientists will weigh all their options until they make what seems like a natural selection.

Could be better, but I'll sign it anyway:
FLAMEBAIT!

Re:Evolution (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242023)

Might as well, they're certainly not making use of intelligent design

Re:Evolution (1)

burtdub (903121) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242045)

Already used that one back in the DNS thing... good thinking though.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242361)

No nasa scientists will weigh all their options until they obviousally make a decision by design.

Duh, Natural selection would mean that tow astronauts that disagree about fixing it will fight to the death outside the shuttle and the survivor get's to do what he though was best.

Deathmatch 2005! space shuttle edition!

Well.. (1)

cmdrTacyo (899875) | more than 9 years ago | (#13241977)

Nasa should make all the necessary repairs despite what anyone else says. They're losing funding and they can't afford another accident. If an accident did happen they probably would never get the funding in order to go to the moon or send people to mars. Hopefully everything goes well and next time they can be better prepared

Re:Well.. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242058)

Hopefully everything goes well and next time they can be better prepared

      The outlook for funding does not look good right now: NASA had years to fix these problems, and they're still not fixed. No one cares about the excuses anymore, the whole thing just does not work like it was supposed to and it probably never will. Time to move on.

Article Quote (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242011)

"extended his gloved hand and quickly removed the first fiber strip, which was sticking up from Discovery's smooth, tiled underside."

Is it me or am I the only person who when first glancing at that thought it was segment from erotic literature?

Re:Article Quote (2, Funny)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242203)

More like a segment from bad slashfic. At least they didn't use the word "thrusters."

To boldy come where no man has before.... (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242219)

mmmm.... space shuttle slashfiction. I do believe that you've actually come up with a niche of sexual depravity that the interweb hasn't filled yet. Fascinating...

Re:Article Quote (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242392)

"Probing into a new pusating adventure!"

Go for it (2, Funny)

OBx2 (889562) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242016)

Hell yes, probably doesn't need fixing - but the astronauts need to have fun.

Re:Go for it (1)

KingVance (815011) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242138)

Damn straight.

Take your rubber mallott, hammer it down, hop back on the bus and get your ass to the house.

Its the last time one of these puppies is going up anyway.

Its the year 2005 anyway, We shouldnt be using crap designed for the 70s and 80s.

Its time to usher in zephram cochram.

This is the end of the road (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242022)

This mission is it for the shuttles. There's no way they're going to go through this process again and again. The program has passed the point of rehabilitation, from a political and PR point of view, if not necessarily from a technical one.

I'll leave it to the space buffs to argue about whether that's a good or a bad thing -- I just pay my taxes and enjoy the pretty pictures.

Re:This is the end of the road (4, Insightful)

Buran (150348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242106)

Actually ... can't be farther from the truth.

There has never been a 100% nominal sortie and there has never been a sortie without risk. The public has this idea that spaceflight is or should be risk-free, or at least as much as driving to work or flying commercially. Well, when you're in a mach 25 orbiter at 300 nm AGL in an environment where only 9 humans out of 6 billion are currently living, there's not much that's risk free. All in all, STS-114 is going well. It's doing exactly what it set out to do. It's delivered it's ISS module and completed replacement of a CMG. It's validated the new quality control photography. It is currently ops testing unprecedented inflight repair procedures. While we're talking about a few glitches, this is NOT something that compromises the survivability of the orbiter. If anything, this is something that increasing the engineering data on the TPS and can be used to improve TPS integrity on future flights, not to mention bettering the crew capacity for repair. As of flight day 9, STS-114 is a great flight.

Re:This is the end of the road (1)

bgfay (5362) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242303)

I agree that this is not the end of the line for human space flight, but this flight does seem to be the end of the line for anything approaching routine space flight with the shuttle. I know that space flight is never (as yet) routine, but the dream of the shuttle was to make it approach that. Clearly, the shuttle does nothing of the sort. It's a very powerful machine, but it is also not the way to go.

At least two positive things are coming out of this shuttle mission. One, the public interest is very engaged in a space shuttle mission (something that hasn't been the case for a while). Two, public interest is also high for building a different type of system to get humans into space.

Either way, we keep moving onward and upward into space.

Re:This is the end of the road (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242556)

Unfortunately, while space travel may some day be routine, it is not routine now and won't be with the shuttle. However, the lessons learned from it will be rolled into the next set of launch vehicles and, someday, into a more-practical space plane.

Unfortunately, far too much of the "public interest" I've seen these days is bitching and moaning by people who don't know anything about what they're talking about but just see idiotic news articles also written by people who don't really know what they're talking about and just write thin fluff pieces that have no real details included, and don't bother to do further research.

Re:This is the end of the road (1)

LexNaturalis (895838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242328)

Yes, but think about the children! Without all of this sensationalism and drama (and I use that term loosely) there likely wouldn't be any footage or coverage of the space shuttle in the news. When Columbia took off, I didn't even see a mention of it in the news, but suddenly it was big news when it blew up.

It reminds me of the scene in Apollo 13 when the wife of the astronaut kicks the news reporters off her lawn because they didn't care about the launch, but they suddenly cared when something went wrong. It's the same today. The children wouldn't even know much about Nasa if it wasn't all over the news.

On a more serious note, I agree with you completely. This has been, overall, a successful mission and to believe that you can negate all risks involved is both naive and ignorant. It's a tragedy when bad things happen and people die, but that doesn't mean that the action itself is inherently flawed. Many historical scientific ventures have had risks, but that didn't stop people from trying to learn more about this universe we all inhabit. Science is better off without sensationalism.

Re:This is the end of the road (2, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242345)

You're completely missing my point.

Technically, things may be going fantastically. It doesn't matter. The whole mission is about "Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" and every future mission will be "Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" until inevitably something does get screwed up. Every flight will consist of going into space to do the equivalent of refinishing a bathroom floor.

If NASA starts something new and ambitious with a clear, exciting goal -- the media and public will be able to accept risk the way they did with Mercury, Apollo and the early shuttle program. But sending people into space purely for the goal of not killing them? It's a dead end.

Re:This is the end of the road (0)

John Whorfin (19968) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242611)

Dude, the umteen-billion dollar Shuttle and the lives of it's crew were put in danger by a high-temperature maxi-pad sticking out from it's "don't touch the tiles, you might break 'em" underside.

Everyone understands that space flight isn't safe, but when foam kills a shuttle, or a strip of paper, or an O-ring, you have to ask if it isn't time for a better idea.

You miss the whole point of the flight. (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242282)

They know there's no real risk from any of these things... the whole point is to get experience in fixing things when it doesn't matter if it works or not, so when it does matter, you know you can do it.

Re:This is the end of the road (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242465)

the only reason we are hearing about all of these glitches is because of the media hype and that the last shuttle was lost. after a few launches they will still be fixing as much and probably more and no one will hear about them because the hoopla will be over...

They bought the tickets, they knew the risks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242065)

I say, let 'em crash.

Re:They bought the tickets, they knew the risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242278)

Surely you can't be serious?

Re:They bought the tickets, they knew the risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242374)

I am serious.

And don't call me Shirley.

Usefulness of shuttles (1, Insightful)

igny (716218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242081)

How much actually useful work was done by this flight? Most of the work seems to be about testing whether $1bln upgrades are worth a damn. If the future flights would require that much work to be able to safely return, no wonder there is a debate on scrapping the shuttle program.

Re:Usefulness of shuttles (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242111)

This was clearly stated to be primarily a test flight, although there were some ISS supplies I believe.

Re:Usefulness of shuttles (1)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242143)

I'm reasonably confident that almost all shuttle missions include a wide array of (possibly small but numerous) experiments to be performed. Also, as Quiet_Desperation pointed out, they are resupplying the ISS and bringing refuse back to the surface.

Re:Usefulness of shuttles (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242161)

How much actually useful work was done by this flight?

Most of it was work on the space station and the usual classified military lasers and nukes in space that they never talk about.

So, realistically, not very much.

Hoping for the best but... (4, Funny)

ivanjs (801614) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242085)

It's still not too late to bring This Ol' Bird [lyzrdstomp.com] out of retirement...

well, that's it for the US space program (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242108)

as we slide into our long period of decline, like the UK did, and France did, and Belgium, and Poland did before us ...

now the mantle is being taken up by the EU, China, and Japan, who concentrate more on useful trips and less on wasteful space stations, and don't try to use 30 year old technology designed to last 10 years, just to finance silly foreign adventures that don't help their economy ...

Re:well, that's it for the US space program (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242324)

just to finance silly foreign adventures that don't help their economy ...

By which you presumably mean dealing with the Taliban, and with Saddam. I'd say that 9/11 had a pretty huge impact on our economy, wouldn't you? And the Taliban regimein Afghanistan was playing delighted host to the people who planned and carried out that bit of nastiness. Turning places like towards democracy and away from corrupt theocracy is so, so in our economic interests that to say otherwise suggests a total head-in-the-sand lack of world view.

As for the Europeans and Japanese... well, aren't they lucky at how little they've had to spend on defense in the last 30, 40 years. The US has done pretty much all of the heavy lifting, allowing them to fiddle around with whatever floats their collective boats (um, "collective" being the key word in most of Europe, certainly). The Chinese are jumping ahead quickly by using other people's intellectual work, and by keeping their government in a position to manipulate their labor and import/export/currency in ways that can't be sustained, but which for now, play well for them in the news. Clock's ticking on that front.

Re:well, that's it for the US space program (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242449)

don't blame me for your failures. the military knows the real source isn't where you are talking about, but you just like to live in fear and swat at the boogyman.

someone call Burt Rutan (0, Redundant)

VaXiNaToR (21643) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242112)

Someone call Burt Rutan and have him design the next generation space vehicles,, no wait, he is already doing that. Here's hoping Burt Rutan puts NASA out of the space shuttle business.

You might as well post the rest of the article (1)

asoap (740625) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242120)

The blurb on the homepage is probably 85% of the full article, so here is the rest.

NASA has run different scenarios at the Ames Research Center in California to test them in a wind tunnel.

NASA will make issue a press release today stating whether or not they will proceed with another spacewalk to repair the shuttle.

Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth on August 8th.

Ads by Goooooogle

Wow... (4, Funny)

praxim (117485) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242178)

"The astronaut extended his gloved hand and quickly removed the first fiber strip, which was sticking up from Discovery's smooth, tiled underside."

Man, I didn't know spaceship repair could be so HOT... I need a moment alone...

America's Obsession With Safety (5, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242193)

<RANT>
In the current climate of "safety at all costs", it's a wonder any of us leave the house. How many product commercials and local newscasts contain that dreaded solemnly intoned phrase "How you can keep your fmily safe". My god, the last presidential election was all about safety at all costs, and little else. We've lost fewer men in Iraq than an average day during World War II. Cars are marketed about safety, efficiency be damned. Does anybody remember when being blasted into space on the tip of a rocket was a brave and noble thing to do because it was fucking dangerous? Remember Gordo Cooper? Chuck Yeager? Anybody rember White, Grissom and Chaffee? How about the Russians who died? Can we please stop obsessing about Crista damn McAuliffe and go back to exploring space? Jesus Christ, America TAKE A CHANCE!
</RANT>

Re:America's Obsession With Safety (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242251)

it's all part of the culture of fear which permeates the red states and the DC beltway.

they're all chickens who've never flown, and the only risk they take is going to a race car rally or trying to step down from their monster trucks without breaking their ankles.

if you want real adventurers, you have to tune out those fear mongers, and live.

i've done more impossible things before breakfast than many, and find this Oh My Fricking G.. attitude to permeate those scaredy cats thinking. it's all they have, fear.

Real americans are made of sterner stuff than that. When we screw up, we deal with it and move on, we don't watch car crashes on the 6 o'clock news, cause we're busy scaling mountains for fun or surfing off Longpoint WA.

160,000 soldiers are taking the risk (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242395)


at dying a horrible bloody death in Iraq everyday
its just thats worth it, at least it is from Haliburton, Carlyle group, Citibank, Exxon, PNAC's point of view

Space doesnt have quite the same ROI as thousands of truckloads of cash and a few bodybags flown in at night, a few thousand disabled vets doesnt matter in the grand scheme of things

this FUD PR campaign speaks volumes of USA's current priorities and how sick/mentally ill as a nation you have become regardless of the rhetoric spewed by your goverments reps

iam sure PNAC members will be toasting those astronauts achievements from their swiss/monaco penthouses and cruise liners..or not.

now mod me down, im done

Re:America's Obsession With Safety (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242541)

You do know that Chuck Yeager never flew on a space craft?

Why bother going (1)

airnewt (830564) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242267)

Why should we even bother going to space if we are going to spend the entire flight fixing issues that have probably always been there, but only recently have been declared safety hazards. All these little repairs don't leave any time for science. Remember science, the reason that we go to space?

Re:Why bother going (0)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242566)

"Remember science, the reason that we go to space?"

Maybe that's the reason YOU go to space. I go to space to fight the scary alien monsters.

Maybe we should make them space stations... (1, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242306)

Maybe we should send the shuttles up and make them permanent space craft instead of trying to bring them back all the time. Then just send up rockets to them man them and bring people back. I'm sure the shuttle get more wear and tear with the re-entries and launches more than anything else.

Re:Maybe we should make them space stations... (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242489)

Yeah, the shuttle shouldn't be used at all unless they're bringing an orbiting satellite back to earth. That was its original advantage right? to bring stuff up... and back?

Supply-only missions don't need all these fancy wings, cargo bays and heat shields.

Move on already. (1)

bigwavejas (678602) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242312)

NASA should stop trying to polish a turd (Space Shuttle) and move on to building the next generation space vehicles. The design is decades old and is obviously failing in many areas.

Re:Move on already. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242488)

Agreed, the question shouldn't be How Can We Fix And Limp Along With An Outdated Shuttle Until We Have None Left.

It should be Which New space delivery vehicles are we building and when?

uggg (1)

bad_outlook (868902) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242356)

I don't like this, and I can't imagine how this makes the astronauts feel! I think I'd be jumping ship to the international space station and wait for the next ride home... I'm sure this is just a case of NASA being over cautious, cause you know if this has happened now, it's happened countless times to past missions with nary an issue (save for that foamy thing)

Two words... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242357)

DUCT TAPE!

Why do they always say "gloved hand"? (5, Funny)

dmorin (25609) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242391)

I noticed this back in the early 90's when one of the shuttle astronauts spoke at my college graduation. They always say "reached out his gloved hand."

Man's in the vacuum of space. Isn't it sort of implied that he's got gloves on? I always wanted the story to go, "He reached out his hand and thought, 'Oh shit I've forgotten my gloves.'"

Re:Why do they always say "gloved hand"? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242578)

I don't know, but my guess is that they say it because those gloves are a pain in the ass.

I'd be worried. (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242418)

At this point in time, Discovery reminds me of the very 1st car I owned. I always had to park it on a hill so that I could run it down the hill to start it. Parking on a hill doesn't help much in zero G. If I were orbiting earth in Discovery right now, I'd be worried, very worried.

It's very simple actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13242491)

Have we lost a shuttle due to issues with it during reentry? Yes? Ok so then weighing the risk of s spacewalk (where we have never lost a life) vs. fixing a possible problem that could prove fatal in a situation that has proven fatal before...seems like a no brainer to me...seems like spacewalking is safer that doing the unknown aka. reentering without knowing WHAT will happen for sure....at what point can we start treating spacewalks as a necessary thing? What I mean is, yes it's dangerous, and they must treat it as such..but if you compare the problems with spacewalking issues that have occured with reentry issues that JUST occured, the answer is obvious.

Thank you for copying the article verbatim (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242510)

Thank you for copying the article verbatim, afterall, a summary should include every word, phrase, and sentence of the original.

This wouldn't be the same NASA... (1)

mliikset (869292) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242537)

...that suspended safety rules to allow the mission?
I think the astronauts should, upon safe return, go through mission control and give each one of those assholes a louisville surprise. Lacking that safe return, their families should do the same, then burn the building to the ground.

Renewed call for a Space Elevator (1)

bad_outlook (868902) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242547)

We need to get serious about other options, to bring the amount of stuff up as they are today, a Space Elevator would be far more appropriate: Space Elevator [wikipedia.org] - can I get a witness?

Not happening (1)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13242563)

We were at work all evening to figure out how to remove the insulation fibers from the outside of the suits so they don't contaminate the air system. Those fibers are sticky little bastards.

But we heard this morning that there is not going to be a 4th EVA this trip. Oh well, we're ready for it next time.
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