I’ve beaten this dead horse a dozen times… but in case you’re a new reader, the Space Shuttle scares me. I don’t think we (currently) need to risk people’s lives to explore space. On top of that, much of the mission of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station is worthless.
Yesterday, NASA revealed a little problem with some thermal insulation.
“We’ve landed safely with damage (in the same area) that’s similar or worse,” Kyle Herring said. “I don’t think concern is the right word; there’s no urgency with the situation.”
There’s no doubt, this story is being played down in Houston. NASA placed the news halfway through the last of seven paragraphs in today’s press release:
NASA seems assured. The insulation shouldn’t be a problem. This has happened before.
That, of course, is what was said by NASA when a ‘small’ piece of insulation broke off and hit the shuttle during Columbia’s launch. The very same thing had happened before.
Columbia disintegrated as it plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere in preparation for landing. Seven astronauts were killed and the space program put on hold.
I’m not saying NASA’s characterization is wrong. However, they probably know less than they’re letting on.
This insulation protects a surface that ‘only’ warms to around 1,000º Fahrenheit – much less heat than Columbia’s ruptured skin faced. Is it critical to the aerodynamics of the shuttle as it hurtles back toward Earth? Only NASA knows… or, by later today, only NASA will have an educated guess.
With all their detailed checks and rechecks, how the hell could this happen?
The shuttle is extremely complex and inherently dangerous. The more times we fly the fleet, the more problems we’ll face. The shuttle fleet has gotten old. Atlantis (flying now) was delivered in 1985.
It’s been 46 years since Americans first sent a man to space. It’s time the government stepped away. Space exploration demands the kind of creative thinking and agility NASA can no longer provide.
This is not the kind of business government is suited to run.