Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Welcome back Discovery!
(Courtesy of BBC News Online)
So our prayers are answered and our fears quashed. 'Discovery' made it safetly back with all seven astronauts alive.
However this is in spite of, not because of, NASA's strategy in dealing with this episode.
It brought back the space shuttle after two years, with only a cosmetic exercise (i.e. having the odd camera here and there and clearly not making the adequate changes with the fueltank) in dealing with the problems which destroyed Columbia. It opted for a return of the shuttle rather than face humiliation by being rescued by the Russians (although one has to admit that the alternative, leaving a shuttle in space, is an expensive option) and to cap it all they decided the tear above the cockpit was not worth dealing with!
If I seem harsh, it's because that's a cavalier attitude to take with seven lives in space.
It seems that NASA (A great organisation in many ways with a proud history), has not fully learnt from the lessons of 'Challenger' and 'Discovery'. Risks need to be taken with space travel, but not needless ones.
Let's just be thankful the shuttles have been grounded for the forseeable future.