Earlier this evening, a well connected friend sent me an instant message with bad news from NASA. A window cover on the shuttle had fallen, striking the shuttle’s protective tiles.
At the moment, NASA says they can fix everything in plenty of time to launch tomorrow. Get out the duct tape.
Isn’t this the real problem with the shuttle program in a nutshell? The Columbia tragedy was also an incident they felt they could work through. A piece of frozen foam… lighweight foam… hit the shuttle. “Harmless,” was the conventional NASA wisdom.
But no one really knows. These are all just calculated guesses. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not.
I play in a lot of no limit poker tournaments on line. There’s an analogy here. I can go with the odds and win a dozen showdowns, all-in hands. But, if I lose one – just one – I’m done.
It’s the same with the shuttle. Guess right 99 times, but if you’re wrong on number 100 you’re 100% wrong, not 1%.
Overall, there is little room for error. In some specific cases, it could be argued, there is no room for error.
So, again I get on my soap box to say, “Don’t fly.”
And, again, I’ve looked to see what this mission is accomplishing. Other than servicing the International Space Station, it will be 13 days of not much.
Sure, there will be safety procedures examined and quantified, but that wouldn’t be necessary if we didn’t insist on men in space. In fact, neither would the ISS servicing.
I will be watching tomorrow at 3:51 PM and hoping for a safe journey. I will even attempt to see the shuttle while it passes over Connecticut during some of its orbits¹. I just won’t be convinced it’s a worthwhile risk or use of our money.
¹ – In servicing the International Space Station, the shuttle uses an orbit that brings it closer to the poles than in ‘standard’ missions. It will get as high as 51° north and south latitude.