NASA officials and the Bush Imperium would LIKE you to think that the delay was simply because of the agency’s commitment to safety… but that’s not really the case!
NASA was prepared to override a safety measure… a faulty fuel gauge that scrapped last week’s planned launch… just to get the shuttle in space within a certain time frame. That gauge warning didn’t go off this time, but they would have launched even if it did. Why would they be willing to do that if they were fanatically committed to safety?
The truth of the matter is that NASA NEEDED to have the shuttle go up! They had to prove that they were still in the game!
First, China is preparing their own space program, because they want to put a man on the moon. Now how would you like to see Neil Armstrong’s US flag being waived about in Beijing? Boy wouldn’t that just suck!
Second, NASA was basically hobbled by a bureaucrat who used the Challenger disaster of 2003 as an easy excuse to scrap putting human beings in space and just stick to using robots. Sure the Hubble Space Telescope brought us some GREAT pictures of space! Absolutely breathtaking stuff! But it needs a few upgrades to keep it in space. After the Challenger disaster, Chief Ostrich Sean O’Keefe basically said that the Hubble can go to hell, because he wasn’t going to risk human lives to go fix it! So all of those astronomers who enjoyed seeing the stars and the origins of the universe were basically screwed.
Third, we were reneging on our own obligation to get the International Space Station up and running! The only vehicle capable of bringing needed parts for the station is the shuttle! We had to go to Russia just to change out the personnel! Is that sinking in yet? WE HAD TO TURN TO RUSSIA FOR HELP!
But there was one more reason why NASA NEEDED to get the shuttle up and running… because now it had competition!
Yeah, you remember SpaceShipOne, right? The first ever private space plane that successfully went into space and came down safely not once, but THREE TIMES in a couple of months! A civilian actually took the stick and flew the first private spacecraft into space!
Now think of the implications of that! In the time that it takes for NASA to get a space shuttle ready for launch, SpaceShipOne could...
- ... go up to the Space Station, bring the crew some takeout food and pick up their laundry
- ... fly back down
- ... go BACK up to the Space Station, give them their clean laundry and some pizza
- ... fly back down
- ... go BACK up into space, fly up to the Hubble, fix the telescope and slap on a Microsoft logo on the side
- ... and then come back down before the shuttle crew is even in Florida for launch!
THAT is a HUGE slap in the face for any government administrator.
THAT is why “Ostrich” O’Keefe had to go, and why the shuttle NEEDED to be up in space. We can’t just send robots out there. We gotta get up there and make space our home as well.
That’s not to say that we can’t improve on certain things. Yes the shuttle fleet needs to be replaced, but we can’t abandon our obligations until NASA “gets around” to coming up with a replacement vessel. We need the Hubble repaired and kept in service until we can get a new one sent up. We need the station to be completed and fully manned. We need to construct the first ever space-only vessels so we can return to the moon and send men and women to Mars. We can’t do these things sitting on our butts and wasting money deliberately smashing satellites into comets.
So to the folks at NASA, welcome back to the “final frontier”. You were missed.
And to the Discovery crew, good job!
Now get back to work!
07/28 update - Well I guess there are more ostriches in NASA than just the Sean O'Keefe. Some chunks of foam fell off the fuel tank during launch... from an area that NASA overlooked and thus didn't overhaul.
Well now the fleet is grounded again until NASA can figure out how to fix this problem. The Discovery is fine. They just did something that they should have done with Columbia back in 2003, which was to let the Space Station crew give them a once-over. Discovery made a spectacular flip for the cameras, allowing NASA the means to check out the shuttle to see if there is any damage.
And now the air-fluffed alphabet soup media is harping about just mothballing the entire shuttle program!
Yo, Tele-Puppets! If you have a new shuttle program hidden in your stuffed shirts, now's the time to pull it out and share it with NASA. Otherwise shut the hell up and stick to watching "Apollo 13" on DVD!