Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Does NASA Ever Learn?

Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to liftoff later this morning despite serious questions about its safety. Specifically, an inspection several weeks ago revealed tiny cracks in panels on one of the wings. You may recall that Columbia was destroyed on reentry in 2003 because of a crack on a wing.

So go forward with launch? Well, despite half the flight engineers voting to delay the mission in order to further evaluate the danger, senior managers decided that no further study was needed. Unconcerned about the difference in opinion, launch manager LeRoy Cain has decided to press ahead. This is easy for him to say, since he'll be safely on the ground the whole time.

Two things should be noted: In 2003, several engineers warned that Columbia's wing may have been damaged by a piece of falling foam. Their concerns were dismissed. And the second fun fact? Cain just happened to be the launch manager for that mission as well.

So how to best insure that Discovery is safe to fly? It's quite simple, actually. Go into one of the meeting rooms at NASA headquarters and grab a folding metal chair. Stick in the corner of Discovery's cockpit and have Cain sit in it during the entire mission.

If the man is willing to put his own ass on the line, then Discovery is good to go.

0 thoughtful ramblings: